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Opinion: More tariffs would bring Missouri to its breaking point


Under Gov. Mike Parson’s leadership, Missouri has entered phase one of its re-opening plan. Industries across the state are getting back to business under social distancing guidelines and looking to recoup their losses from the shutdown. But for businesses operating under this new normal, the prospect of additional tariffs imposed by President Trump is a looming concern.

Congressional leaders and President Trump are now considering action to hold China accountable for their mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak. But imposing additional tariffs, as President Trump has suggested, is the wrong approach and will only further hurt American businesses and consumers. Unfortunately, even U.S. Senator Josh Hawley has come out in support of these additional tariffs, saying that China “lied” about the scope of coronavirus and that they should “pay.”

Yet it’s not China who would pay these tariffs. Businesses right here in Missouri are the ones that pay them. Tariffs are an added tax that American companies pay to our own federal government. Congress misses the mark when it encourages President Trump to impose more of these taxes, which have thus far cost Missouri business owners millions of dollars that they should be using instead to stay afloat, preserve American jobs, and survive this economic crisis. Imposing more tariffs on America’s already struggling economy would be the final nail in the coffin for many businesses that are on the brink of bankruptcy due to coronavirus.

The manufacturing industry, which was already struggling before coronavirus as a result of tariffs, has continued to see a steep decline. Magnitude 7 Metals, the now-famous aluminum manufacturing plant in southeastern Missouri, has long been the poster child for the negative impact that President Trump’s tariffs have had on the manufacturing industry. After re-opening in 2018 under new ownership, the plant, which provides around 500 jobs to the surrounding area, has been in “prayer mode” according to chief executive Charles Reali.

The people of Missouri are tough. But our own manufacturing and farming based economy can only take so much. There comes a tipping point for our community, and these added tariffs would do just that — they would tip us over the edge and break us.

As Missouri begins to re-open, we must ensure that we come out of the gate strong. People who have been out of work or furloughed are counting on this re-opening to begin the recovery process. Additional tariffs imposed by the Trump administration — and encouraged by Senator Hawley — would derail attempts by many Missouri business owners to keep their doors open.

If Senator Hawley wants to hold China accountable, his first option shouldn’t be to punish his own constituents already struggling to make ends meet.