With inflation strangling the economy and Joe Biden's approval rating scraping along at a sub-Trump 41%, the White House is under increasing pressure to take conspicuous action against inflation soon.
According to Pew Research, Americans consider price inflation the biggest problem facing the country by far, with 93% saying it's a "very big" or "moderately big" problem. Meanwhile, just 28% of voters approve of Joe Biden's handling of the issue.
Against that grim political backdrop, in a Sunday appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the White House is considering tariff cuts:
"The president has asked us on his team to analyze (the potential for tariff reductions) and so we're in the process of doing that for him and he will have to make that decision.
I will say it depends on what we're talking about—on what kinds of products. So, for example, steel and aluminum—we’ve decided to keep some of those tariffs because we need to protect American workers and we need to protect our steel industry; it’s a matter of national security.
There are other products—household goods, bicycles—it may make sense and I know the president is looking at that.”
Somebody should tell Raimondo that tariffs on steel and aluminum may narrowly benefit domestic producers and their employers, but at a cost that reverberates throughout the economy—to include hurting domestic manufacturers of products that use steel and aluminum, along with their employees and their customers.
Tapper laudably ridiculed the Biden administration's past assurances that rising price inflation wasn't something Americans should be worried about—including assurances from Raimondo herself.
After noting Treasury secretary Janet Yellen's recent admission that she'd misjudged inflation, Tapper said, "You told Bloomberg that inflation would be temporary about a year ago. As recently as six months ago, you were calling inflation 'a short-term problem, not a long-term problem,' so you got it wrong too."
CNN'S JAKE TAPPER: "As recently as six months ago, you were calling inflation 'a short-term problem, not a long-term problem.'"— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) June 5, 2022
COMMERCE SECRETARY GINA RAIMONDO: "I still think we will get inflation under control, we just have to stick with it." pic.twitter.com/ftec6ui6Gv
While the White House ponders tariff reductions on various consumer items, Reuters reports that trade relief is coming more quickly for an industry aligned with Democrats' green energy agenda.
On Monday, Biden will use executive action to force a pause in the collection of duties on solar panels imported from four Southeast Asian countries.
The executive action relates to a Commerce department investigation that—by threatening to impose retroactive tariffs of up to 250% on imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam—has nearly halted solar panel imports from those countries altogether.
Of course, solar panels aren't exactly top-of-mind for Americans hammered by soaring prices for food, gas and other basic needs.
Meanwhile, for champions of free markets, Biden's pending moves are a mixed bag at best—particularly as it relates to Biden's solar panel push. According to Reuters:
Biden also will invoke the Defense Production Act to drive U.S. manufacturing of solar panels and other clean technologies in the future, with the support of loans and grants.
The Defense Production Act is a Korean War-era measure that empowers presidents to command private businesses to produce goods and services in support of national defense. It's meant to be an emergency power, but—as we've seen time and again—tyrants and their lawyers are adept at opportunistically contriving "emergencies" out of thin air.
Defense Production Act again, eh https://t.co/nAau00WqbR— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) June 6, 2022