Solve Exemption Problem By Ending Tariffs

Wall Street Journal

Robert S. Wetherbee’s “I Support Trump’s Tariffs but Need an Exemption” (op-ed, Jan. 8) is a great example of why free-trade policy is the best approach when it comes to rent seeking. It’s great that he saved 100 jobs directly in his plant, but how about the widespread job losses in energy, manufacturing and other sectors caused by the steel and aluminum tariffs? Some of these companies lost overseas customers permanently due to higher input costs.

The large footprint of the steel and aluminum tariffs are also apparent in the number of requests for exemption. According to a Mercatus Center report, as of March 18, 2019, U.S. manufacturers filed 51,345 such requests and growing. In addition, there are questions about whether these exclusions are being properly granted, as shown by the Commerce Department’s inspector general’s report, which stated that the “exclusion request review process is neither transparent nor objective.”

The only sure thing is that this tariff madness creates higher costs for consumers. The best policy at this point isn’t to grant exclusions but to get rid of these unnecessary and burdensome taxes. It is time to look for a global solution to a global problem.

Pinar Çebi Wilber, Ph.D.
American Council for Capital Formation