The ink had barely dried on President Donald Trump’s tariff order before the pundit class started attacking the 5 percent surcharge on all goods imported from Mexico.
The howls weren’t confined to Mexico, but ranged across America’s political spectrum. The conservative National Review called Trump’s action “a $17 billion-a-year-and-rising sales tax on Americans.” The left-leaning New York Times speciously concluded that the U.S. is “no longer a reliable negotiating partner.”
Amid their rush to judgment and plucked-from-air calculations, NR’s naysayers averred, “In reality, it is difficult to say how much money would be raised, because buyers respond to tariffs in unpredictable ways.” Read: Buy American.
Likewise, the Times acknowledged that Mexico and other major trading partners “need the huge American market [and]Mr. Trump’s constant threat of tariffs may succeed at getting victories.” Indeed.
Beyond dollars-and-cents speculation, the core concern remains border security, and Mexico is in a unique position to stanch the surge of northbound migrants. It should be clear by now that mere jawboning by the White House won’t yield results — especially when Congress does nothing and lower-court judges undermine the administration’s enforcement efforts at every turn. Mexico needs an incentive to do the right thing, starting with enforcement of its own southern border.
A standard “safe third country” agreement that allows the U.S. to exclude asylum-seekers who transit through Mexico would be a good start at deterring Central American migrants. While Mexico has resisted signing a third-country accord like the one Canada has with the U.S., Trump’s escalating tariff schedule will impose progressively steeper costs on Mexico City’s passive-aggressiveness.
Lest Americans forget, tariffs have been an integral tool of U.S. policy from the beginning. Every president on Mt. Rushmore and on our currency used tariffs to promote this country’s interests and safeguard its sovereignty. The tariff is a presidential prerogative the founders wisely built into the Constitution; it’s there to be used. With Trump declaring a national emergency four months ago, if not now, when?
As the president observed in his tariff announcement: “Mexico makes a FORTUNE from the U.S., have for decades, they can easily fix this problem. Time for them to finally do what must be done!”
If the media pundits have better ways to constructively resolve the humanitarian and security crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, by all means let’s hear them. PS: We’re not holding our breath.