By Arnold Kling
Powerful senators from both sides of the aisle, Schumer among them, are pushing two bills that threaten retaliatory action if China does not budge. For the first time, the idea is gaining broad support. The bills are moving swiftly through the Senate, and many analysts expect one will pass.
Meanwhile, the Club for Growth has this petition:
As economists, we understand the vital and beneficial role that free trade plays in the world economy. Conversely, we believe that barriers to free trade destroy wealth and benefit no one in the long run. Because of these fundamental economic principles, we sign this letter to advise Congress against imposing retaliatory trade measures against China.
There is no foundation in economics that supports punitive tariffs. China currently supplies American consumers with inexpensive goods and low-interest rate loans. Retaliatory tariffs on China are tantamount to taxing ourselves as a punishment.
Of the 1028 signatories, I spotted only a handful that I know are on the left. I wonder how many liberals said, “Euuwww, Club for Growth,” and refused to sign. I mean, if the Economic Policy Institute had circulated a petition against the Bush steel tariffs, I would have said “Euuuww, Economic Policy Institute” …and signed, anyway.
UPDATE: According to Pat Toomey, at least 20 signatories also signed a petition against the Bush 2003 tax cuts. That is a sufficient number to suggest that my only heuristic applies. You should trust that opposition to trade retaliation against China is based on economic reasoning, not politics.