Tariffs, taxes and trade, oh my! Help students understand how these impact their lives now and in the future. This week’s CLP current event can help!

Brought to teachers by Susie Marcus, CLP consultant, with CLP staff.


News Sources

What China’s Response to U.S. Tariffs Tells Us About Their Free Trade Strategy, by Douglas Bulloch, Forbes, April 11, 2018
“When Robert Lighthizer–the U.S. Trade Representative–revealed a list of goods from China which would be subject to tariffs, it was immediately certain that China would respond in kind, even as they scrambled to discuss concessions behind the scenes.”

Economists Say U.S. Tariffs Are Wrong Move on a Valid Issue, by Jim Tankersly, The New York Times, April, 11, 2018
“Across the ideological spectrum, trade experts and former top economic advisers to presidents say Mr. Trump is right to highlight issues on which China is widely viewed as an offender, such as intellectual-property theft and access to its domestic market. But many of those experts say Mr. Trump’s planned tariffs would backfire — by raising costs to American businesses and consumers, and by inviting retaliation against American exporters. They say he would better serve his purposes by enlisting international allies in a pressure campaign against Beijing.”

China files trade case at WTO over Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, by Vicki Needham, The Hill, April 10, 2018
“WTO rules permit a country like China to retaliate against an action such as the tariffs Trump is planning “if there is a legal finding that the national security rationale is baseless,” said Chad Bown, a senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics.”

Xi Jinping Urges Dialogue, Not Confrontation, After Trump Seeks Tariffs, by Alexandra Stevenson, The New York Times, April 9, 2018
“He highlighted areas where China was willing to give, including pledging to ease restrictions on imported cars by the end of the year as well as repeating open-ended promises to give foreigners greater access to the country’s financial markets — promises officials have made in the past. He also pledged to strengthen intellectual property rights, addressing one of Mr. Trump’s main complaints.”

“Trump calls on China to ‘end unfair trade, take down barriers’”, by Brent D. Griffiths, Politico, April 7, 2018
“The two nations have been increasingly aggressive with their trade policies as Trump and his administration has argued that China’s unfair practices hurt America’s tech companies. Beijing has responded in the past with tariffs of their own. A spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry added on Friday that ‘we do not want to fight, but we are not afraid to fight trade war.’”

China fires back, announcing tariffs on US planes, cars and soybeans, by Daniel Shane, CNN Money, April 4, 2018
“The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday said it plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of US exports. The 106 affected products will also include soybeans and chemicals. China’s announcement is a direct response to the Trump administration’s publication Tuesday of a list of about 1,300 Chinese exports — also worth about $50 billion annually — that it intends to target with 25% tariffs.”

Elizabeth Warren likes tariffs, too, by Erica Pandey, Axios, March 11, 2018
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Sunday that she approves of President Trump’s move to bring tariffs into the trade conversation. “What I’d like to see us do is rethink all of our trade policy. And, I have to say, when President Trump says he’s putting tariffs on the table, I think tariffs are one part of reworking our trade policy overall,” she told CNN’s Jim Acosta on State of the Union.”


Questions to Consider

From Teaching Activities for: ‘The Real Risks of Trump’s Steel and Aluminum Tariffs’, New York Times

  • What are tariffs and for what purpose does the government generally use them?
  • What are the two main reasons Mr. Trump has used to rationalize the tariffs on steel and aluminum?
  • Who is helped by this move? Who might be hurt by it?
  • How will consumers be affected?
  • What could be some of the potential ripple effects?
  • Ultimately, what is most at risk as a result of these tariffs?


Background and More

Definition of Tariffs, by Dr. Douglas Hawks,
“A tariff is simply a tax placed on imports. By placing a tax on imports coming into a country, that country’s government is increasing the price of foreign goods, thereby making domestic goods more competitive.”

Tariff Act, 1789, The Center on Congress at Indiana University

Free Trade & Protectionism – Timeline, The Center on Congress at Indiana University

What Are Protective Tariffs?,
CLP: Video

Tariff of 1816, American Historama

Tariffs, Their Pros and Cons, with Examples, by Kimberly Amadeo, The Balance, April 8, 2018
CLP: Clear explanation and some historical references

What’s the deal with global trade? The view from Davos 2018, by Anna Bruce-Lockhart, World Economic Forum, January 26, 2018
“In a special address on the final day of Davos, US President Donald Trump said he would always promote “America First”, just as he expected other world leaders to do when it came to their own countries, but added: ‘America First does not mean America alone. When the United States grows so does the world.’”

Building Trade Walls, by Keith Bradsher and Karl Russell, The New York Times, March 7, 2017

China says it does not want a trade war with US, CNBC, March 4, 2018
“’China does not want to fight a trade war with the United States, but we absolutely will not sit by and watch as China’s interests are damaged,’ Zhang, who is a spokesman for parliament and was formerly an ambassador to the United States, said.”

Do China and the U.S. have a mutually beneficial relationship?, by Eshwar Subramaniam, Quora, April 23, 2015
“Though it appears so, Not Really.
China is getting the Lion’s share of the benefits from the Sino-American Relations. Simple Proof is the fact that the current trade deficit of the USA to China is $318.7 billion in 2013 growing from $215 billion in 2012.”
CLP: Outline basics concepts of trade between US & China with a helpful graphic


Lesson Plans

Trade and the Global Economy, Center for Economic Conversion
CLP: High School

Bridges & Barriers to Trade, Foundation for Teaching Economics
CLP: High School

The Trading Game, National Geographic
CLP: Middle School

Teaching Activities for: ‘The Real Risks of Trump’s Steel and Aluminum Tariffs’, The Learning Network, The New York Times
CLP: Middle and high school; great questions


Constitutional and Legal Connections

Talk of new tariffs opens up an old constitutional issue, by NCC staff, Constitution Daily, December 23, 2016
“Earlier this month, the Congressional Research Service updated its guidance on presidential authority and tariffs. It reviewed the past century of major trade deals involving shared tasks between Congress and the President. ‘What can be culled from these examples is that most of the provisions require the President to make some threshold finding or determination before he may take some circumscribed trade-related action to counteract his finding.’”

Is Trump’s Tariff Plan Constitutional?, by Rebecca M. Kysar, The New York Times, January 3, 2017
“The founders thought about this issue a lot: After all, taxes, as every grade schooler knows, fueled the colonies’ push for independence. So they wrote the Constitution, and its Origination Clause, to give the taxing power to the part of government that is closest to the people, thereby protecting against arbitrary and onerous taxation.”
CLP: Opinion


Oregon & the Northwest

Oregon farmers await effects of new tariffs, by Amanda Linares, The World, April 11, 2018
“Currently, Oregon is China’s fourth-largest exporter of agricultural goods into their country. While the announcement begins to spread and settle into the homes of farmers everywhere, some local producers don’t seem to mind the change at all.“


Oregon State Social Science Standards

8.26 Examine a controversial event, issue, or problem from more than one perspective.
8.22. Distinguish among tariffs, quotas, and government policies as means to regulate trade.
8.27 Examine the various characteristics, causes, and effects of an event, issue, or problem.
8.28 Investigate a response or solution to an issue or problem and support or oppose, using research.
HS.1 Evaluate continuity and change over the course of world and United States history.
HS.2 Analyze the complexity and investigate causes and effects of significant events in world, U.S., and Oregon history.
HS.9 Identify historical and current events, issues, and problems when national interests and global interest have been in conflict, and analyze the values and arguments on both sides of the conflict.
HS.27 Examine functions an process of United Sates government.
HS.33 Explain the role of government in various current events.
HS.37 Explain how the global economy has developed and describe the involvement of free trade, comparative advantage, IMF, WTO, World Bank, and technology.
HS.52. Explain how the American labor system impacts competition and trade in domestic and world markets.
HS.57 Define, research, and explain an event, issue, problem or phenomenon and its significance to society.
HS.58 Gather, analyze, use and document information from various sources, distinguishing facts, opinions, inferences, biases, stereotypes, and persuasive appeals.
HS.59 Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.
HS.61 Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon, identifying characteristics, influences, causes, and both short- and long-term effects.
HS.63. Engage in informed and respectful deliberation and discussion of issues, events, and ideas.


We the People Lesson Connections

Middle School, Level 2

  • Unit 6, Lesson 28: What is the relationship of the United States to other nations of the world?

High School, Level 3

  • Unit 6, Lesson 37: What key challenges does the United States face in the future?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 38: What are the challenges of the participation of the United States in world affairs?