President Trump sincerely believes these tariffs will bolster American businesses. His administration has argued that taxing imports will create a "level playing field" for U.S. firms, which have been subjected to "trade abuse for many decades."
Yet, American firms almost unanimously oppose the tariffs. They understand that import taxes will harm workers and consumers. If the president truly wants to help U.S. firms, he should listen to them and call off the trade war.
For months, businesses have warned that tariffs will clobber American workers. The administration has largely dismissed these concerns. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross shrugged off the warnings as "hyperbole," adding that "I don't think there's really a lot for anybody to complain about."
Ross should tell that to the 60 workers who just lost their jobs at America's largest nail manufacturer. After the administration's steel tariffs went into effect, Mid Continent Nail Company was forced to hike prices on its steel nails by 20 percent.
Half its customers defected to cheaper sellers. The collapse in orders compelled the firm to lay off 60 employees. The company, in self-described "crisis mode," is weighing an additional 200 layoffs.
The president's tariffs aren't just impacting companies that use large amounts of steel. They're wreaking havoc even in unrelated industries. American exporters worry that foreign nations' retaliatory tariffs will cripple their own businesses.
Consider powerboat manufacturer Correct Craft. The company is reconsidering its expansion plans due to fears of a prolonged trade war - Mexico, Canada, and the EU have already threatened to impose tariffs on American boats.
The energy industry also faces enormous risks. America's oil and gas producers, which support 10.3 million American jobs, will likely have to scale back production and lay off workers due to the president's tariffs.
By making steel more expensive, the tariffs will increase the cost of a typical pipeline project by $76 million, according to a study conducted by consulting firm ICF.
Beijing has also promised to impose tariffs on imported American oil and natural gas, meaning the largest foreign buyer of U.S. crude may soon turn elsewhere for its fuel needs.
U.S. energy companies may be forced to resell up to 400,000 barrels a day of oil at a discounted rate. The vice president of one Texas drilling company warns the tariffs will hobble the oil and gas industry, which accounts for up to 8 percent of the U.S. economy.
"It is going to hurt everyone for the short term," he recently told Reuters.
Ordinary voters from across the political spectrum believe the tariffs will hurt the U.S. economy. Nearly six in ten Americans say that the trade hostilities will leave them personally worse off, according to a new CBS News poll.
One analysis estimates that President Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods alone are equivalent to a $12.5 billion tax on U.S. consumers.
President Trump no doubt truly wants to help American businesses. but raising their cost of goods and angering trading partners isn't the way to do it.
Business leaders and everyday workers can only hope the administration calls off its misguided trade war.
David Williams is president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.