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Mark Levin: ‘Why Limit the Tariffs?’

By Michael Morris | March 6, 2018 | 11:13am EST
Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin (Screenshot)

On his nationally syndicated radio talk show Monday, host Mark Levin discussed trade, asking his audience, “Why limit the tariffs?”

“[I]f that’s so great for America and American jobs, well why would you just limit it to steel and aluminum and lumber?” asked Mark Levin about the effectiveness of tariffs. “Let’s massively increase tariffs on wheat. Let’s massively increase tariffs on corn. Let’s massively increase tariffs on every d--- thing we produce, whether it’s a raw material or a finished good. That way we’ll have explosive growth, explosive wage increases. We will destroy every competitor. Well, of course, that’s nuts. You know what you’ll have? The poorest country on the face of the earth. To the protectionists out there, the Republican Herbert Hoovers and the Republican Bernie Sanders, the question is: Why limit the tariffs?”

Levin’s comments came after President Trump announced on Thursday of last week “that he would impose stiff tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, making good on a key campaign promise,” reported to the New York Times. President Trump also suggested that he does not “think you’ll have a trade war” and that he would exempt Mexico and Canada from tariffs if a “new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed.” President Trump made his trade policy known on his Twitter feed throughout the course of the last week, the most relevant tweets to Levin’s analysis beginning on March 2, 2018 and continuing through March 5, 2018:

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wards are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”

“We must protect our country and our workers. Our steel industry is in bad shape. IF YOU DON’T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY!”

“When a country taxes our products coming in at, say, 50%, and we Tax the same product coming into our country at ZERO, not fair or smart. We will soon be starting RECIPROCAL TAXES so that we will charge the same thing as they charge us. $800 Billion Trade Deficit-have no choice!”

“The United States has an $800 Billion Dollar Yearly Trade Deficit because of our ‘very stupid’ trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!”

“If the E.U. wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on U.S. companies doing business there, we will simply apply a Tax on their Cars which freely pour into the U.S. They make it impossible for our cars (and more) to sell there. Big trade imbalance!”

“We are on the losing side of almost all trade deals. Our friends and enemies have taken advantage of the U.S. for many years. Our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

“We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed. Also, Canada must..”

“...treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive. Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S. They have not done what needs to be done. Millions of people addicted and dying.”

“To protect our Country we must protect American Steel! #AMERICA FIRST”

Below is a transcript of Levin’s remarks from his show on Monday:

“It’s not as if we don’t have tariffs and we have absolute free trade. The truth is, the goal is to have freer trade so you’re freer. But the fact is, there is no free trade.

“‘But we want fair trade.’ So fair trade, you see, is raising taxes massively by the president and the federal government on everything you purchase that has steel, aluminum or lumber in it. That, they say, is fair trade because it will punish the Chinese.

“It doesn’t punish the Chinese. It punishes you. And where do you think that money goes? Two places: it goes into the federal government, and these favored industries are able to jack up their prices just within the limit that’s on the tariff. So, in other words, if you have a 25 percent steel tariff on, most of these companies will raise their prices 20, 22, 24 percent, so they’re just under it. They make out like bandits. And then they wrap this up in patriotism and Americanism, when it’s quite the opposite.

“And if that’s so great for America and American jobs, well why would you just limit it to steel and aluminum and lumber? Let’s massively increase tariffs on wheat. Let’s massively increase tariffs on corn. Let’s massively increase tariffs on every d--- thing we produce, whether it’s a raw material or a finished good. That way we’ll have explosive growth, explosive wage increases. We will destroy every competitor. Well, of course, that’s nuts. You know what you’ll have? The poorest country on the face of the earth. To the protectionists out there, the Republican Herbert Hoovers and the Republican Bernie Sanders, the question is: Why limit the tariffs? Why limit it to three industries?

“‘Well, you know, Mark, we need steel for national security.’ Really? Well, since 70 percent of the steel in this country is produced by American companies, it has nothing to do with national security.

“In fact, any other industry in this country that controls 70 percent of the market, it would be called a monopoly. Are you aware of that? It would be under investigation by the anti-trust division, our anti-trust division in our Justice Department. If any other— If there was a car company that controlled 70 percent of the car market, it would be called a monopoly. If there was an oil company that controlled 70 percent of the oil in this country, it would be called a monopoly. The propaganda that’s been used over the course of the last half-century to defend these industries has been very, very effective.

 

“And at the root of this is a lack of understanding about liberty and capitalism, and it’s truly sad because liberty and capitalism go to the core of this nation. What’s liberty? What does it mean? Why is it never discussed in the context of these economic decisions? What’s capitalism? ‘Unfettered capitalism.’ We don’t have unfettered capitalism. We’re getting more and more socialist by the day. What do you mean ‘unfettered capitalism’?

“We had a huge burst of capitalism back during the Reagan years. ‘Oh, what happened Mark? What happened?’ Created 25 million jobs right into the Clinton administration. Over seven percent economic growth in several quarters. We’ve never seen anything like this. Because capitalism works.

“You’ve been told this big lie, that China’s dumping steel in the United States. Two percent. Two percent. China has nothing to do with this.

“And by the way, China is our enemy. It’s our sworn enemy, and if you want to be a hawk on China, you should join me, not the Bernie Sanders, Herbert Hoover protectionists.

“You know who wants America to put tariffs on steel and aluminum, even while their propagandists in China are saying, ‘Don’t do it. We’ll retaliate.’ Now why? Why? When you raise the price of steel, with tariffs, coming into this country, and our steel companies massively increase their prices too, who do you think is going to sell cheap steel to Mexico? Who do you think’s going to sell cheap steel to France? Who do you think’s going to sell cheap steel all over the world? China.

“We’re handing them our steel market. The irony of this is that it’s self-destructive. You massively increase the cost of the consumers – many of whom are union members, blue collar workers, pensioners on fixed incomes – you massively increase their costs. The federal government collects the taxes, so they can redistribute to other people. The steel companies hugely increase their prices to come right under the tariff level, and China makes out like a bandit.”

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