‘America First’ Trade Agenda Is Under Threat from Unelected Bureaucrats

Costly new regulations could erase some of the competitive advantages U.S. producers have gained

U.S. consumers who haven’t been buying American products and have been getting their Scotch whiskey, cheese, wine, coffee, olives, and cashmere sweaters from Europe will pay more for the privilege of supporting foreign producers who pay no taxes to America.

The Trump administration, on October 18, imposed 25 percent tariffs on several European imports following a World Trade Organization (WTO) decision that confirmed the E.U. gave illegal subsidies to the France-based aircraft company Airbus.

However, a little-known Treasury Department bureau called the TTB that regulates and approves alcohol labeling in the U.S. is proposing new regulations that could add hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to U.S. industries.

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These costly regulations would erase some of the competitive advantages U.S. producers have gained over their foreign competitors from the tariffs.

TTB’s new rule was supposed to respond to the 90-plus percent of the American people who have called for modernization of labeling, especially for the inclusion of allergen, calorie, and ingredient content.

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Instead, it ignored consumers’ concerns and added more unnecessary red tape to the industry, such as what type and size of barrels manufacturers can use. If the TTB plan goes into effect, the end result of the new hundreds of millions of dollars in new costs will be higher domestic prices and the retilting of the scale in favor of foreign producers.

These proposed TTB regulations come at a time when it is becoming more and more obvious and apparent that the White House’s trade strategy is working.

Unemployment is at a 50-year low.

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Wages are up after decades of stagnation.

The Fed is not able to reach its target rate of 2 percent inflation (despite constant doom-and-gloom warnings that tariffs will most certainly raise prices for consumers).

U.S. factories have added 484,000 jobs in the last three years.

The U.S. Treasury collected a record $6.2 billion from tariffs on imports in October 2018.

A monthly record of $6.2 billion in import tariff revenue was set in October 2018.

Of the 296,000 jobs created that month, 32,000 were manufacturing jobs, after decades of manufacturing job losses.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has called out the TTB’s new proposal, stating in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that it “will have no positive impact on the consumer” and “hurt the bottom line of businesses across the country.”

He is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government and should take the initiative to hold hearings on the TTB’s proposed actions that threaten to take the teeth out of the U.S. import tariffs on the E.U.

Our domestic producers compete with foreign producers for market share and market access every day.

If we are going to tilt the playing field in favor of anyone, shouldn’t it be in favor of our own producers?

We have granted Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to several countries around the globe, including China. It is time that we finally grant MFN status for ourselves.

To be sure, there is a place for common-sense regulations in America, such as the ones that result in cleaner water or move us toward a pollution-free environment.

Regulations like these raise our standard of living — but TTB has neglected to issue the transparency rules that consumer groups have spent nearly two decades requesting.

Instead, its new regulations will needless expand the regulatory state.

They will only make American products more expensive when they compete head-to-head with imports — and that can’t be tolerated.

Roger Simmermaker is the author of “How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism.”

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