Speeches and Statements

Murphy Remarks, Ways and Means Committee Hearing, Proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Budget with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

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Washington, June 8, 2022 | comments

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  And thank you, Secretary Yellen.

I introduced a bill requiring the Treasury Department to report to Congress on the impact that recent U.S. tariff increases are having on inflation. 

These tariffs were imposed by the Trump administration and have largely been retained by the Biden administration. 

They include Section 232 tariffs on aluminum and steel and Section 301 tariffs on many products from China.  There is also the expiration of GSP—which allows certain products from many low-income countries to enter the U.S. tariff-free.  When the program expired, tariffs went up on all those products.

My bill would require Treasury to examine the inflationary impact of these tariff increases, individually and in the aggregate.

You are an economist, so you know tariffs are the equivalent of a tax on American families and businesses. 

I’ve been a consistent critic of these tariffs. 

The 232 tariffs are hard to justify on “national security” grounds and have alienated our partners.  The 301 tariffs have failed to change China’s abusive trade practice, and have hurt American households and companies.  I’ve heard it argued that these tariffs give us “leverage” over China.  That feels like a stale talking point, not rooted in reality.          

In light of high inflation in this country, I think the case for repealing or reducing these tariffs becomes even stronger.   

The Peterson Institute estimates repeal could reduce inflation by around 1.3 percent. 

That wouldn’t solve the inflation problem, but it would be a meaningful step.  For American families, every single dollar of price relief counts. 

Secretary Yellen: here are my questions:

First, do you believe these tariff increases contribute to inflation?

Second, has your agency estimated the inflationary impact of these tariffs?

Third, if not, don’t you think the federal government should conduct this study, just like outside economists have?  You don’t need my bill to pass to undertake that study—you can do it right now.

I yield to you for your answers. 
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