As both presidential candidates enter the final stretch towards Election Day, Vice President Biden continues to hold a lead in the polls. In order for President Trump to defy the odds once again, just as he did in 2016, he will have to secure an important demographic of voters: those who rely heavily on trade. This includes American business owners, manufacturers, and farmers who have suffered because of the trade war with China. It’s not an easy task, but it’s one that the president still has time to accomplish before the final votes are tallied.
Both presidential candidates have been quick to brush aside questions from the media regarding their plan to address or end the ongoing trade war. While President Trump continues to dig in his heels and refuses to repeal tariffs on China, Vice President Biden has not made ending the trade war and tariffs a central promise of his campaign. With a lack of leadership from both candidates on this issue, the farmers, business owners, and manufacturers affected by tariffs are left wondering who will have their back.
Since 2018, the trade war with China has cost Americans more than $68 billion in additional taxes. What's worse, American families and consumers are also dealing with the added weight of a global pandemic which has caused the greatest economic decline since World War ll. Tariffs, which are taxes paid to the federal government by U.S. companies, are the last expense that Americans can spare during this uncertain time.
The Phase Once Trade Deal had the potential to shift the narrative in favor for the United States. The administration has championed the deal as a massive win for the American people, underlining how it would narrow the trade deficit with China and revitalize America’s manufacturing and agricultural industries. Yet, over two and a half years later, all signs indicate that China will come up incredibly short of their trade obligations for this fiscal year. As of June, China has imported only $40.2 billion of the agreed upon $172.7 billion in American goods for 2020. The deal also did not address the core structural issues in China that caused the trade war.
President Trump had the unique ability to turn traditionally blue states red four years ago, and by repealing tariffs and ending the trade war entirely, the president will have a greater chance of keeping those key battleground states red this year. The trade dispute with China has been a huge burden on the American people for almost three years, and voters are sure to take into consideration the added costs of tariffs when they head to the ballot box this election cycle. Alternatively, Vice President Biden must realize that Americans are tired of their livelihoods being used as a negotiating tool which has caused more harm than good. We need a strong approach towards China, but tariffs are not the answer.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause Americans to experience unprecedented hardship. As our economy begins to recover, and Americans head to the ballot box, a pledge to repeal tariffs and end the trade war by either candidate will surely indicate to the American people that they are ready to jumpstart our economy and set the United States on a path for economic revitalization. Should President Trump choose to end the trade war and repeal tariffs, he can demonstrate to American manufacturers, farmers, and business owners that he will represent their best interests in Washington over the next four years and put his campaign on a stronger path toward securing a second term on November 3.
Jesse Grady is a Juris Doctor candidate at the University of Maryland, a Master of Business Administration candidate at Johns Hopkins University, a former regional field director for the Texas GOP, and a former staff member of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.