China isn’t playing games when it comes to responding to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum – the country has carefully selected a slew of American goods for tariffs that will hit hard at states that helped sweep Trump into office.
Take the swing-state of Wisconsin. Trump carried the state by less than 1% in the 2016 presidential election and it is the home state of the outgoing House speaker, Paul Ryan. Harley-Davidsons are manufactured in the state. A further loss of jobs to the already troubled brand could prove unpopular with Wisconsin’s voters, many of whom are employed in agriculture, another target of tariffs.
Or take the largest item on the Chinese list due to take effect in two weeks – soybeans. They are grown in Iowa and Nebraska, both Trump states; bourbon on the EU list comes from Kentucky, another Trump state, home of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Chinese tariff hikes on oranges will hit growers in the swing-state of Florida.
All told, the U.S. could see 25 percent tariffs on soybeans, corn and wheat; beef, pork and poultry; and automobiles.
The Guardian notes a second round of tariffs are slated to hit coal, crude oil, gasoline and medical equipment, among other goods.
Dan Ikenson, director of Cato’s Herbert A Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, says that the tariffs could cost the US economy $100bn – roughly equal to the gains from Trump’s corporate tax cuts.
“The idea behind China’s strategic retaliation is to remind the president that he needs those states for Republican victories in the fall,” says Ikenson.