Tariffs are essentially a tax on imports. Last year, the U.S. expected to take in about $40.4 billion in customs duties and fees on imported goods.
You’re hearing a lot of partisan talk these days about increases in tariffs — especially goods from China. But the truth is, this kind of talk is nothing new. Tariffs in the U.S. have always been politicized. They’re often protectionist or retaliatory.
And while it’s easy to argue that higher tariffs often backfire — like during the Great Depression — one can also argue that they’ve been effective at times in protecting U.S. business interests.
Sources:“Tariff History of the United States” by F.W. Taussig, “Historical Statistics of the United States” by the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. State Department, U.S. Congress, U.S. International Trade Commission, Office of the United States Trade Representative, World Trade Organization, The World Bank, The Trade Partnership, “Perspectives on Trade” by Jean Heilman Grier of Djaghe LLC, Pew Research Center, The Journal of Economic History, The New York Times, The Economist, Agence France-Presse