- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2018

President Trump’s self-proclaimed superhero status as “Tariff Man” does not impress Ben Shapiro.

The editor in chief of The Daily Wire played “Free Market Avenger” to “Tariff Man” on Tuesday after the president’s trade-war rhetoric with China shook the stock market. The conservative pundit released an op-ed blasting Mr. Trump’s “knee-jerk protectionism” for jeopardizing the nation’s economic health.

“I am a Tariff Man,” Mr. Trump tweeted Tuesday. “When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN.”

Mr. Shapiro then took a page out of iconic free-market economist Milton Friedman’s playbook to counter the president.

“The accumulating list of irritants and flashpoints between the U.S. and its trading partners could spill over through other, less obvious channels such as confidence, financial markets and investment, compounding other threats such as rising U.S. interest rates and capital flight from emerging markets,” the conservative author wrote. “Chad Bown, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, estimates that 12 percent of U.S. imports were covered by tariffs in September. Assuming Mr. Trump goes ahead and hits the remainder of Chinese imports, that will top 20 percent.”

“While tariffs alone shouldn’t destroy the economy, they certainly add weight to the burden of other problems: falling oil prices, slowing real estate markets, the flattening of the yield curve thanks to ‘hawkish’ comments from the Federal Reserve, and the sinking stock market,” Mr. Shapiro continued. “None of this is a recipe for economic health. We are now nearly a full decade into economic recovery. Investors are obviously wary that that recovery may slowly be turning in a negative direction. President Trump’s economically illiterate trade commentary won’t help — and is driving American allies to ramp up their own trade barriers to retaliate.”

Mr. Trump told supporters on Twitter that he will “happily sign” any deal with China that he considers fair.

“Let the negotiations begin. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he tweeted.

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