Audio: Despite Debate Denial, Trump Did Suggest 45 Percent Tariff on China

Posted: Jan 15, 2016 4:30 PM
Audio: Despite Debate Denial, Trump Did Suggest 45 Percent Tariff on China

Alternate headline -- Man Who Flagrantly Lies in Debates Flagrantly Lies in Debate. Here's the relevant clip from last night:

Neil Cavuto asks him about the 45 percent tariff comment, which was reported by the New York Times. "That's wrong. They were wrong. It's the New York Times, they're always wrong," Trump said. Times journalists who were present for the editorial meeting promptly took to twitter and pushed back:

My slam-dunk prediction:

And so it came to pass.  And Trump's hardcore followers couldn't care less.  Listen to the audio here; the key bit comes at the end.  In the debate exchange, Trump tells Cavuto the question the Times asked him pertained to China's "total control" over North Korea (which he's also wrong about, I should mention). There is some discussion of that issue at the very beginning of the clip, but the conversation quickly shifts away to other issues, including China's currency manipulation.  Transcript:

NYT: So what would you do as president to put pressure on China?  Would you cut off Caterpillar sales? Would you...

Trump: No. I would tax China coming in.  Products coming in.

NYT: A tariff?

Trump: I would do a tariff, yes. And they'd do it to us, by the way. We have to be smart. I'm a free trader. I'm a free trader. And some of the people would say 'oh it's terrible.'  I'm a free trader.  I love free trade, but it's gotta be reasonably fair.  So I would do a tax.  And the tax -- let me tell you what the tax should be.  The tax should be 45 percent. That would be a tax that would be equivalent to some of, kind of, you know, the devaluations they've done.

Trump now claims he was only speaking theoretically, which is his version of walking back a comment.  But in the editorial board meeting he explicitly stated that the tariff "should be 45 percent."  Rather than giving his more nuanced spin about sending a message about what China would hypothetically deserve in his mind, Trump accuses the Times (for whom I have no love lost) of misreporting what he said.  They didn't.  And in case anyone actually cares about, you know, the policy substance, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush cleaned up the mess, explaining how a trade war would hurt US consumers (who'd pay more for Chinese goods) and manufacturers -- as the demand for US products overseas declined because of retaliatory tariffs, which Trump concedes China would impose in his answer.  Just a thought: