In the final stretch of the 2020 election season, and as the U.S. economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump’s trade war with China is once again caught in the crossfire for political debate. The President stopped in Winston-Salem recently and was eager to make the case to North Carolinians for why his trade war with China has proven to be beneficial for the economy. Yet for many in the swing state and Americans around the country, the trade war has proven to be nothing but a sore talking point.
This year, North Carolina joins other southern battleground states like Georgia, Arizona, and Texas that are up for grabs. After winning the Tarheel State by just three percent in 2016, President Trump has made three separate campaign stops here in the last two weeks, indicating how critical a North Carolina win is in order to stay in the White House. But manufacturers, farmers, and business owners across North Carolina have suffered because of the trade war, which will likely have an impact when voters go to the polls on November 3rd.
According to Tariffs Hurt The Heartland, a coalition of farmers, manufacturers, and businesses against tariffs, the trade war has cost Americans more than $57 billion thus far. What’s worse is that these businesses and farmers being impacted by the trade war are also facing a major downturn in their respective industries as a result of COVID-19. Many have seen revenues plummet, and without enough cash on hand, some businesses have been forced to shut their doors altogether.
Tariffs could spell trouble for President Trump as he looks to secure key battleground states as well. In total, 8 states that the President needs to win to stay in the White House have paid an average of $477 million more in tariffs, including North Carolina. For comparison, the national average is $1 billion in tariffs per state.
Throughout his 2016 campaign and first term in office, President Trump has been a sharp critic of China. Growing trade disparities, currency manipulation, and stolen intellectual property have become a trademark of the cost of doing business with the communist state. The United States has long needed to stand up to China, and President Trump tried to address the issue by starting the trade war, which did ultimately lead to the Phase One Trade Deal. However, American workers and businesses have been impacted the most by tariffs, which are taxes they pay to the federal government.
The path forward to the White House now includes each candidate’s stance on trade. President Trump should lift tariffs on China and end the trade war to truly demonstrate that he has already made American great again.
But Vice President Biden could also seize this opportunity. His economic plans, named the “Buy American” and “Build Back Better” platforms, have laid the foundation for the revitalization of American industrial sectors and domestic business. The only component that is missing is his pledge to repeal President Trump’s tariffs and end the trade war so that we can keep jobs and manufacturing opportunities where they belong – here in the United States. Should he do so, the Vice President could win over the voters President Trump has isolated with his trade war, secure North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes, as well as other manufacturing-focused battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.
President Trump’s tariffs have caused many traditionally right-leaning voters to reconsider who they will cast their ballots for in November. If President Trump wants to continue to keep my home state of North Carolina red, which I hope he does, he must repeal the tariffs on China and end the trade war. If he doesn’t, it could present the Biden campaign with the perfect opening to lift the pressure imposed on those who have been hurt by the trade war, win over a key voting bloc, and ultimately win North Carolina.
Katlyn Batts is a contributor at RedState.com.