How Trump’s Trade War Hurts Republicans in Midterms

How Trump’s Trade War Hurts Republicans in Midterms July 23, 2018

Republican politicians face a tough choice in this year’s midterm elections: Do they embrace Trump or run away from him? Here’s one reason they’d probably be better off running away from him, because the trade war he has unilaterally sparked, in clear contrast with Republican policy preferences, will hurt Republican candidates, especially incumbents.

But market analysts, industry experts and economists warn that the economic fallout of the president’s tariffs — those that are already in effect and those he’s threatening to impose — is only going to intensify over the coming months and could reach a peak around election time.

“We’re already hearing complaints now from companies, so by the time we get to the midterms, you’re going to be hearing governors, mayors, Congress complaining about jobs, about cost increases, about problems,” Carlos Gutierrez, the former Commerce secretary under President George W. Bush, told POLITICO. “The question is: Will that be strong enough to offset the idea that we have to get tough on our trading partners, and that our jobs are being stolen overseas?”

It takes months for most consumers to feel the impact of tariffs, but as the fall approaches, everything from groceries to appliances could start to cost more at major retailers across the country. Democrats could use these price increases as a political cudgel against Republicans in swing districts as they try to take back control of Congress…

But Trump and his party could soon begin to face consequences as companies in the coming months start reporting lower earnings, reassessing their supply chains and holding back on investment, all of which will begin to ripple throughout the economy and could lead to a slowdown or full-blown recession, experts say.

And tracing that downturn to its source would be trivially easy. Indeed, Republican policy experts themselves have long made the case that tarrifs increase prices and cost jobs — and they’re right, always have been. So it may be smart for Republicans to run away from Trump rather than try to rise his coattails, especially given his low approval ratings in general. On the other hand, Trump has built a genuine cult of personality and a base that simply doesn’t care about things like evidence and logic. They’ll follow him to the ends of the earth, ignoring the actual effects of what he does because those effects happen in the real world, not the alternate reality they live in.

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