Tariffs Are Yet Another Republican War on the Poor

At lunch today I was musing about why Republicans have been so quiet about Donald Trump’s tariffs. After all, tariffs are just taxes, and nearly the entire burden of tariffs is paid by consumers in the form of higher prices. So why aren’t Republicans yelling about this? Why isn’t Grover Norquist threatening to primary anyone who supports higher tariffs? Why are Republicans so amenable to this particular tax increase?

Then I came home and was looking around at some related material and happened to come across this:

Of course! A tariff on yachts or private jets would be progressive, but Trump’s tariffs are on food, steel, aluminum, consumer electronics, and so forth. That means they’re regressive: they hurt the poor more than the rich.

Those are the only taxes Republicans like, which explains why they’re OK with Trump’s trade war. It’s not just a war on China, it’s also a war on America’s poor, and Republicans sure know what side of that war they’re on.


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.