Politics

Grover Norquist urges Trump to get rid of trade tariffs, calling them taxes on US consumers

Key Points
  • "Tariffs are taxes," says Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. "We need to get those tariffs down as quickly as we can."
  • Trump announced Thursday evening a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports just weeks after increasing tariff rates on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
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Grover Norquist: Tariffs are taxes

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist called Friday on President Donald Trump to help out consumers by removing the various tariffs imposed by the U.S.

"Tariffs are taxes," said the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. "They're taxes on American consumers and producers who use imported products. We need to get those tariffs down as quickly as we can."

Trump announced Thursday evening a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports, beginning June 10, if Mexico does not take action to "reduce or eliminate the number of illegal aliens" crossing into the U.S.

The president's latest threat comes on the heels of the White House announcing earlier this month tariff rate increases on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.

"The sooner we can come to an agreement, the more certainty we have, and we can get those taxes off the American consumer," Norquist said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

Norquist has been a vocal critic of trade wars in the past. In a March 2018 interview on CNBC, at a time when Trump was using steel and aluminum tariffs as leverage, Norquist said: "This can get carried away. This is a war of choice like Iraq. Trade wars are wars of choice [that] you didn't have to do."

However, Norquist, a powerful force in conservative politics, is not entirely critical of Trump. When it comes to the president's corporate tax cut, he pointed to the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan did not get credit for boosting growth with lower taxes.

The U.S. is facing a similar situation now, Norquist told CNBC on Friday. "People know unemployment is down, wages are up, new jobs are being created. Reality trumps all of the rhetoric we're getting."

Norquist's group is known for pushing legislators and political candidates to sign its Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written promise to oppose any efforts to increase taxes on working Americans and U.S. businesses.