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Donald trump threatening to impose 35% tariff

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/26/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 699 times Debate No: 98462
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
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I will argue that Donald Trump threatening to impose a 35% tariff on US companies who leave the USA and ship their products back is beneficial for the United States.

My opponent will argue that it is not.

May the best argument win

No new arguments in R5.


Due to a lack of round structure, I am going to assume its mine to simply accept, and await argumentation from Pro.

That being the case, tally-ho.
Debate Round No. 1


Donald Trump may not be the smartest person, but one thing is he is a good negotiator. Threatening to impose a 35% tariff is a better negotiating tactic than simply doing nothing. Here are the 2 main benefits:

1) Increases the likelihood that companies don't move overseas since the cost to move has become higher than it was previously.

-This means that US jobs are more likely to stay in the USA, which clearly benefits Americans.
-This means that companies will be paying more taxes to the government rather than stashing their profits overseas.

2) Increases his negotiating power with other countries and with the USA as well.

-This threat shows strength, an essential asset for negotiating. Keeping negotiating skill level constant, the person with the greatest leverage (strength) will come out with the better deal.

Now, like anything, a tariff isn't purely beneficial; there is a cost as well. Tariffs increase the price of goods to the consumer. However,

1) This is merely a threat of a tariff. In other words, if the threat works, then the cost to the consumer remains the same, and the country reaps all of the benefits stated above.

2) Even if the company does move overseas, the country would have moved anyway. In other words, if the company moves overseas when the cost of moving is raised, they certainly would have moved if the cost was lower.

3) Although goods are now more expensive, the price of goods might not actually be as high as the tariff. In other words, since the company saved money by moving overseas (they woe moved overseas otherwise), they are able to make their products cheaper, although certainly the price will have increased. In other words, the price won't go up to the full 35%.

4) The government gets extra revenue. This 35% tariff goes directly to the government's pocket. Although consumers might have to pay more for the product (and this consumption may go down), the overall revenue to the USA might actually increase. (Hard to say whether or not it will, but it is certainly close.) This revenue can be given back to USA consumers in the form of tax breaks, etc.

Threatening to impose a 35% tariff has many benefits and very little costs. It is an extremely beneficial tactic to prevent US companies from moving overseas. The alternative, doing nothing, is much more costly.


The more and more I read about Trump, the more I wonder how much is rhetoric, and how much is politician vs empty suit.

“Build a wall”.
“Drain the swamp”.
“Lock her up”.

Arguably, these were campaign slogans, sort of. I think we all know building a wall is a definitive centerpiece for Trump’s platform, as empty as it is, and ‘draining the swamp’ is a phrase that plays well, though not much else (according to Trump himself, on that one). He flatly told Hillary, and America during the debate he was going to seek criminal prosecution, so Trump is clearly no stranger when it comes to threats. He talks a great game. It should seem no surprise that in order to be elected on a jobs platform, just as bombastic claims should be made, such as a 35% punitive tariff on companies based in the US, but setting up manufacturing overseas, then selling goods back to the US, or imposing a 45% tariff on Chinese goods should they not “play fair”, though the exact conditions of such a game are nebulous for the threat.

So, what exactly happens from threats? After Trump threatened to cancel the Air Force One Project, Boeing stock dropped about 1% in premarket trading (1). I am not confident how that was beneficial. A threat, typically, is an off the cuff remark to rattle a cage, and admittedly, such a tactic might work on some people or groups. However the analytical will realize a threat as hollow, especially when the sources is considered for this topic of debate, and it is hollow indeed. Its almost like Trump’s go to strategy is make a threat, which by this time in his political career is no longer the trump card (PUN!) that he thinks it is.

The draw back to a threat? Lets examine: Carrier, despite being in direct negotiations with Trump, still outsourced a significant number of its Indiana manufacturing, and rather than castigate the company and demonstrate his conviction to the matter, Trump instead nearly broke his arm patting himself on the back for keeping a handful of jobs that arguably weren’t going anywhere anyways. In short, the threat was casually dropped when inconvenient to the narrative. That shows weakness, not strength. Secondly, even jobs that “stayed” were going to evaporate anyways due to automation (2). If the goal is to save jobs, what is Trump’s next threat on automating a work-force? Clearly, the other prong of a threat being ineffective is the ambiguity in which such is issued. To what end will Trump go to “save jobs”?

We eagerly await the next bombastic remarks to find out.

For the next round, we will delve into the supposed benefits of a threat/imposition of a tariff to see whom might really benefit in this instance.

Debate Round No. 2


As con seems to be unaware, things can be BOTH a campaign slogan AND a platform or JUST a campaign slogan. Con also seems unaware that people lie in politics all of the time; in fact, it's the standard practice. However, although it's impossible to ever know exactly what would happen, logical people can make reasonable deductions.

It is obvious to anyone who thinks logically that Donald Trump is going to make an effort to keep American jobs here. What should also be obvious is that since Donald Trump is a negotiator, the 35% tariff might not actually be the reality; as we both agree, it's just a threat after all. However, this argument is about WHETHER OR NOT THE THREAT OF A 35% TARIFF IS BENEFICIAL TO THE UNITED STATES; IT'S NOT ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT IT WAS A LIE OR WHETHER OR NOT IT WILL BE 35% INSTEAD OF 20%.

"So, what exactly happens from threats? After Trump threatened to cancel the Air Force One Project, Boeing stock dropped about 1% in premarket trading (1). I am not confident how that was beneficial."

Con doesn't understand how this is beneficial; however, it should be obvious. Having the stock drop isn't the beneficial part; it's beneficial because it saves the government money. After the threat, Boeing has agreed that instead of producing the planes for OVER budget like before, NOW they are going to produce the planes under budget. The stock therefore dropped BECAUSE boeing's profits got lower, which is a GOOD thing for the united states.

Con has provided an example FOR my argument when he mentions boeing; con has shot himself in the foot. Boeing is perfect example on how a simple threat, e.g. Donald Trump saying he will go with Lockheed to build planes, results in beneficial gains for the united states. And when the threat works, such in this case, the benefits are even greater since the threat doesn't materialize and impose costs on the united states. (If the threat materialized, the cost would be that lockheed probably wouldn't build a plane as well as boeing, a company who has built these planes for years.)

Con also doesn't understand that there are different types of threats. A 35% tariff is clearly a "negotiating threat." When con mentions hollow threats, he is describing a difference between Obama and Trump, which is slightly irrelevant, but I will address it. Yes, it's obviously true that every time you make a threat and you get put to the test and don't follow through, your credibility goes down. This is what happened with Obama in Syria, for example, when he threatened assad with a redline yet never followed through. That is why it's important to follow through on threats.

Trump has shown in business he is more than willing to follow through on threats. In business, threats and negotiations are made all of the time; if Trump never followed through on any of them, he'd be a horrible businessman rather than a successful one.

Con clearly doesn't understand the carrier deal; although Trump MAY have given him credit for certain jobs which are staying, the reality is that he did indeed save MANY jobs which were not staying. Con is arguing that using "spin" indicates weakness, which of course is false. Weakness is not having power or not following through on threats; spinning a message to make it look better than it is is something entirely different and irrelevant to this debate.

Con mentions automation, which although true, is also irrelevant. Con is attempting to project what Trump WOULD do to preserve these jobs when that wasn't the debate at all. The argument is simple:

Trump threatening to impose a 35% tariff on US companies threatening to leave is beneficial to the US. Period.



While Pro might accuse con of not understanding things, I would like for our readers to take a good look at the resolution: “35% tariff on US companies who leave the USA ...”.

Does anyone see the problem there?

You don’t put tariffs on companies. You put tariffs on products.

Before the backpedal occurs, there is no mistaking what is being talked about: entire company vs the products they make, Pro is versed on this matter: “… Trump never claimed that he would impose a 35% tariff against Chinese products; the 35% number was used as a threat against American companies .....” (1)

Emphasis Con’s.

Typically, tariffs are blanket applied to a company (or country) when various organizations demonstrate that flooding a market with cheap goods (known as “dumping”) is doing harm to the buying market. In those instances, the sellers intentionally sell their goods at a lower price than they do in their domestic market. This unscrupulous act is frowned upon by trading countries the world over, and the WTO has adopted regulations as to how various governments may react to its practice. (2)

That explained, Pro/Trump has yet to differentiate how companies that (for the lack of a better) ex-patriate to protect their bottom line should be differentiated in their various dealings. Assuming Acme Company makes widgets X Y and Z domestically, but for reasons decide to move to make widget Z elsewhere, is it practical to impose a tariff on the whole of the company? If Acme is making widget A in another country, what does that have to do with them moving widget Z? That artificially increases the price to the consumer, and that is not beneficial. That is protectionism run amok, widget Z ‘s average price is now artificially higher, widget A’s price is now artificially higher, and the consumer suffers for it. This assumes Acme Company even sells widget Z in the US anymore, as it’s not worth the price hike, thus lowering the competition to make widget Z in the US, potentially edging prices higher due to that lack of competition.

Trump nor Pro has mentioned “dumping” or any other illegal dealings in any of this tariff talk, it has been strictly punitive in fashion, so this is not about illicit dealings being done. While unpatriotic, there is absolutely nothing illegal about moving to another country in order to exploit a cheaper labor pool or get a different set of taxes. Pro even agrees, its smart to help your bottom line “…Trump took full advantage of the rules and loopholes given to him. He didn't create the game; he used the rules to his advantage. This is called being smart.” (3) Trump is setting the precendent of punishing smart companies. Trump is positioning America to be a financial prison, that being once you start dealing in our home land, you are stuck. That does not attract businesses or companies to the US, which again, is net negative.
This was not a threat. This was a slogan, akin to “locking her up”. The Republican in Congress know it. Trump knows it. US companies know it, especially Carrier, since they were shaking Trump’s hand as they were sending jobs to Mexico. The example has thus been set: give Trump the ability to save face and he will fawn all over himself about saving 50% (or fewer…) of jobs in question, and of course the concept of a company-wide tariff vanishes like smoke in the wind, despite clear outsourcing being done. Trump is talking fast and loose to play to his audience, and that is reckless behavior. While Pro might state that Con “doesn’t understand”, there are people, countries, trade partners, and allies that might take such loose talk seriously or at least as an indication of character. Such sloganeering undermines Trumps ability to be taken seriously on the world stage, and that most definitely is bad for America.

Debate Round No. 3


Rather than addressing my argument, con goes into nitpicking the wording. Yes, obviously tariffs are put on products and not on companies; the statement clearly meant that the tariffs would be put on the products the company would be shipping back to the USA. In fact, I even stated that it would be put on chinese products (and not companies); the only real reason I wrote american companies is due to the word limit and because I'm not spending time editing my debate as well.

Then con goes on to give one example of a reason a tariff is put on a product. (Obviously this is only ONE reason; there are clearly others...for example, putting it on companies who are trying to outsource labor to cheap 3rd world countries.)

What con also fails to understand is that although clearly having Acme move part of its company overseas may be beneficial for ACME and the consumer, it's devastating towards the employees. Furthermore, he also doesn't think about the negative externalities. Although the consumer may be paying slightly more for the product due to the tariff, the consumer will also be paying more tax money to support the unemployeed people who just lost their jobs. Furthermore, the government will be collecting revenue in the form of tariffs.

Although the consumers may lose $ by having to pay more, the overall benefit for america is clearly positive.

What con also fails to understand is that labor in third world countries is cheaper for a couple of reasons. First, people there are extremely poor and desperate and are therefore willing to work for pennies on the dollar. Moreover, their labor laws are extremely weak; in other words, these laborers also face harsh working conditions. Here is one of many articles describing the typical situation:

Again, no one claimed that it was illegal to move their country; however, it's the government's job to protect ALL of its people. If we were to allow free movement of companies, the USA would suffer greatly. It's the government's job to intervene on behalf of its people to avoid them being exploited.

No one is claiming that Acme isn't being smart by trying to move their company overseas. They are. That's called smart business. Which is why we need government intervention, because Acme's best interests aren't the same as America's best interests.

Con then brings up "carrier" as an example, claiming that trump "spun" the news to make it look more beneficial than it was. Well, yes, that's obviously true, but just because the news was "spun" to become more beneficial doesn't mean that it wasn't beneficial without the spin; it clearly was due to the many reasons I outlined in my last argument, as well as this one.

Trump's spin on the matter is irrelevant; the debate is simple. A threat of tariffs against the products of US companies (happy con?) who move overseas is clearly beneficial for AMERICA. It may not be beneficial for Acme or the consumers of that product, but the benefits of the threat VASTLY outweigh the negatives.

In almost every situation there will be winners and losers. Rather than seeing the entire picture, con merely focuses on the losers.


And despite the fact the walk back warning was issued: "Rather than addressing my argument, con goes into nitpicking the wording. Yes, obviously tariffs are put on products and not on companies; the statement clearly meant that the tariffs would be put on the products the company would be shipping back to the USA".

Pro clearly understands the difference between companies and products, that was demonstrated. But no no!

Pro meant -products- despite twice over iterating a company, and even making clear the differentiation in casual conversation. If Con has no desire to argue the resolution as written, they should have conceded in the first round.

Pro, quite simply, is abandoning their resolution. That alone should grant Con the win, however Con will go further: for Trump to issue a tariff against a company (as the resolution clearly states), it would be -illegal-. THAT is why this is not beneficial to the US, we have a president clearly overstepping his bounds. The PotUS from day one in office can impose tariffs on products, carte blanche, but as mentioned previously, in addition to needing the backing of the WTO, he would also need Congressional go ahead, something that right now, his own party is loathe to produce. (1)
Rhetoric comes with a cost.

Pro goes on to be hypocritical: "Again, no one claimed that it was illegal to move their country; however, it's the government's job to protect ALL of its people." In the case mentioned, the only people protected are those producing widgets protected by the tariff. While Pro might like to allude that all Americans will pay unemployment and other such taxes, Con might suggest something much more simple: get another job. Pro literally wants all of America to pay higher prices for goods to protect a few hundred jobs that arguably might be obsolete anyways. Oh, and the government gets more money for it.


Regarding Carrier, look, Con just wants to point out that despite clear expatriation of jobs... NO TARIFF HAS BEEN MENTIONED. Trump hasn't tweeted his plan, there was no finger waiving, there was nothing, NOTHING, with regards to the tariff-on-company threat.

Because it was hollow. Just like Carrier knows. Just like Trump knows. And just like the world is seeing when Trump opens his mouth on various other topics.

That rhetoric is coming with a cost, a cost that America will have to pay for. Trump has drawn lines in the sand, ignored them, and he is not even in office yet.

Now, all that said, out of sheer morbid entertainment, I will address a few of the rebuttals first offered by Con:

" After the threat, Boeing has agreed that instead of producing the planes for OVER budget like before, NOW they are going to produce the planes under budget. The stock therefore dropped BECAUSE boeing's profits got lower, which is a GOOD thing for the united states" -- this is totally backwards. If I contract 100 dollars to do a job as a buyer of services, over budget (in excess of 100 bucks) is not my concern, that is not contracted. If, on the other hand, I do something under budget, I collect profit, as I contracted the job to be 100 bucks, but got the job done under that amount. Pro is really talking about renegotiating the contract, but I am sure that is something Con doesn't understand.

RE Obama and Syria, the Red Line in Syria comes hot on the heels of accusations of violating the War Powers act in Libya. In short, to avoid that the next go-round, Obama let Congress decide what powers he had for the Red Line on chemical WMDs in Syria... and Congress punted. The more and more this debate goes on, it appears to be firmly partisan and not policy based. Con would suggest a forum topic, as then Pro would not be subject to factual accountability.

Con will conclude in the next round.

Debate Round No. 4


As was stated many times which con failed to rebuttal, threatening to impose a tariff has many positives and only a couple of slight negatives. Moreover, since it is a threat, it also gains the additional benefit of not having to go into effect, leaving the cost of goods the same and reducing the negatives to practically nothing.

Instead of arguing this, which would be almost impossible to do, con has decided to nitpick the wording of the argument claiming that tariffs are only done on products, when it is clear that con knew the actual debate. Instead of focusing on rebutting comments, con has sunk to nitpicking a minor inconsistency.

Furthermore, con claims that "they should just go get another job." What con fails to understand is that when jobs leave the US, there are only a finite number of jobs. If they "go get another job," that would just put someone else out of work, causing the exact same problems which con of course fails to address.

Moreover, when con brings up carrier, he claims the threat was "hollow." Regardless of whether or not it was, the threat still worked; in other words, this threat was clearly beneficial for the united states. Con claims it is "hollow" because he doesn't understand when it's obvious Donald trump is lying, e.g. "drain the swamp, impose term limits" (which is obviously a lie since congress of course would never pass that bill), vs things which obviously aren't lies, e.g. the threat of a tariff.

Con then goes and claims that a threat of a tariff will "only save a couple of hundred jobs," because con's faulty logic simply looks at the carrier situation and not the other jobs that would be saved through a threat of a tariff. In other words, con doesn't understand that EVERY company who moves their company over seas will have this tariff impose on its products, not just carrier. In other words, this threat of a tariff is applied to EVERY company, not just to carrier. Therefore, the benefits would clearly be jobs in large numbers, not just "a couple hundred jobs."

Con claims that "no tariff has been mentioned" to carrier, except carrier is clearly smart enough to realize that a tariff will be imposed on their products if they leave. In other words, the message was crystal clear to everyone but con. If the threat were hollow like con claims, then why didn't carrier move?

Con again nitpicks wording. Clearly it was a negotiation of a contract since the planes haven't yet to be built. Rather than go after the argument, con continues to nitpick semantics. Rather than focus on editing, I've focused on the actual argument, which is clear.


Thus far, we have seen what happens when jobs are expatriated under Trump’s threat.
“While this announcement is good news for many, we recognize it is not good news for everyone,” says a letter sent by Carrier to its employees in the wake of the deal set up by Donald Trump that will prevent them from outsourcing some 800 jobs to Mexico. About 1300 Indiana-based jobs are still heading south of the border, which is a detail that has been lost in the commotion.” (1)

I am not sure how much more clear it can be as to what Trumps plans are: self-aggrandizement, no tariff. Trump drew a line in the sand with his tweet(s) and it has been walked past. Blatantly.

From the same source, on the matter of Pro’s “jobs will be retained” suggestion, others disagree: “The Wall Street Journal has now joined in, calling what Trump did in Indiana a “shakedown”…. Here’s what they said: Mr. Trump’s Carrier squeeze might even cost more U.S. jobs if it makes CEOs more reluctant to build plants in the U.S. because it would be politically difficult to close them. So, in short, there are still people losing their jobs and more job loss could be on the horizon.”

Con does not find that beneficial, but apparently, Con doesn’t understand a lot of things.

To sum up:
1) We have seen Trump’s threat ring hollow.
2) We have seen the President Elect shoot from the hip on things he simply is not allowed to do solo, and won’t have much help on from the legislature, if any.
3) We have seen in a matter of weeks a company walk over his line.
4) We have seen Pro clearly recognize what their resolution is about and attempt to change the scope of the debate to a product-rather-than-company tariff, prompting the question: Is Pro simply unaware of The Donald’s tweets? Does Pro know what they are defending?

Just to emphasize the absurdity to which Pro maintains their defense:

“Con claims that "no tariff has been mentioned" to carrier, except carrier is clearly smart enough to realize that a tariff will be imposed on their products if they leave.”… They have already left! Con has cited this twice now! Con still eagerly awaits the imposing of the tariff on Carrier.

The world has seen Trump’s proverbial “Red Line” with Carrier. The world has seen his child like “Cancel it!” mentality with projects he seems unfamiliar with. These types of flailings are not the hallmarks of good leader, and that is incredibly detrimental to the US.

In light of the fumblings from Pro, and the ineptitude that the President Elect is showing of the office, and the clear disregard Trump has shown of his own threat and the precedent that sets, Con urges our audience to vote in a direction demonstrating what Pro doesn’t understand: such a threat is not beneficial.


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Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by John_C_1812 2 years ago
A legal tariff must insures a foreign body has representation inside the United States Constitutional separation process.
An illegal tariff plays a part in the denial of representation in the United States Constitutionals separation process.
A State of the Union would describe a point where these two basic principles meant with conditions of legal precedent. Demonstrations of fundamental operations of a machine to demonstrate control over its use, is are a much greater threat than saying you might now how to someday use the machine.
Analogy: So what is the proper answer to this question? How many people do you ride in car with after they threaten to run someone over? We know the kinds of people who jumps in the car, what kind of person gets out?
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