OPINION: The Trade War is Undoing President Trump’s Economic Achievements | Cucciniello

By Alex Cucciniello

President Trump was in the Garden State this week holding a rally in support of Democrat-turned-Republican Representative Jeff Van Drew, who announced last month in an Oval Office press conference his departure from the Democratic Party. Frankly, considering the president’s long list of economic accomplishments for New Jersey, I’m surprised more of our state’s Democrats haven’t made the switch.  

Since President Trump was elected, New Jersey has added 129,400 new jobs to its economy, including nearly 20,000 new manufacturing and construction jobs. In his first year, Mars Wrigley, better known as the makers of M&M’s, Snickers, and, of course, Mars chocolate, moved its U.S. headquarters to Newark and Hackettstown, creating 1,500 new jobs. And last July, Teva Pharmaceutical announced it’s moving its North American headquarters to North Jersey, creating more than 800 new jobs in the area. Three months later, Key Foods, a major supermarket chain, said its relocating its headquarters to Old Bridge.

The growth has been incredible for our state, lifting thousands of New Jerseyans off the sidelines and back into the workforce. However, for every step forward New Jersey takes, it takes one step backwards, due to the on-going trade war with China that is starting to shrink our economy and that has forced American companies to pay millions in tariffs, otherwise known as taxes.

The economic uncertainty that the trade war has caused has left many New Jersey businesses pessimistic about the health of America’s economy this year. In a survey by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, 40 percent think the economy will be worse than it was in 2019 and nearly 60 percent think we’re in for a recession. Their less-than-optimistic outlook means they won’t be hiring as much and expanding their businesses in 2020.

“The tariffs for us have been a nightmare,” said Gary DuBoff, the CEO of a staple manufacturing company in Saddle Brook. Seated before a legislative committee on tariffs, Duboff explained that, while he would love to purchase resources that are made in America, the wire needed to make staples aren’t made here anymore. He explained this to the Commerce Department when he applied six times for an exclusion from tariffs—but was denied every time. Meanwhile, large corporations, such as Apple and Schick, were given exemptions. That’s hurting small businesses like DuBoff’s, who explains “We’re doing everything we can to keep jobs in New Jersey and it’s become more difficult every day.”

This shows that the hardest hit from tariffs are not only businesses, but workers. The trade war threatens New Jersey’s $45.9 billion manufacturing industry, which employs over 258,000 workers. Their payroll growth has already slowed. And the next step could be mass layoffs, which we have seen happen in neighboring states, such as Pennsylvania, where over 8,000 workers lost their manufacturing jobs.

At the same, while our paychecks haven’t increased, the price of everyday goods have. Tariffs are additional taxes and companies have to raise prices to pay for them. “It’s something that we could absorb for as long as we possibly could, but there comes a time when we couldn’t absorb it anymore,” said Joseph Marchese, the owner of Johnson’s Restaurant Equipment in Neptune City, after he faced a 10 percent tariff on his Chinese imports. New Jersey consumers have now seen rising prices for pans, ladles, bicycles, luggage, handbags, and more.

In total, our New Jersey taxpayers have paid more than $1.3 billion in additional tariffs, and our businesses have faced $252 million in new retaliatory tariffs, plummeting our global exports by 12 percent last year. In a global economy, our manufactures depend on selling abroad and can’t compete with other nations with tariffs on their products. Now, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve has listed New Jersey in its top 10 list of states that could “see the biggest economic contraction.”

In fact, tariffs are hurting the entire nation. Nationally, Americans have paid $46 billion in tariffs. Those dollars could have stayed in our local communities—and I think President Trump would prefer they do.

This month, he signed the Phase One agreement that he negotiated successfully with China. But, I hope President Trump negotiates another deal soon that would end all tariffs, so that our local businesses and workers can get the relief they need. He made the economy great again—but tariffs could erase his progress. With tariffs gone, President Trump can send our economy to new heights, secure his reelection chances, and give us an even better Roaring ’20s.

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Alex Cucciniello is the Vice-Chair of the Bergen County Young Republicans