Trump talks up taxes at the border — but no specifics

(CNBC) – President Donald Trump spoke directly toward the idea of using taxes and tariffs to give the United States a stronger trade position with other countries.

“Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing,” Trump said in his Tuesday address before a joint session of Congress.

The president again did not provide specifics, however, about what such a tax plan would look like.

Trump claimed that the US has lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

The president cited Harley-Davidson as an example of a company that could benefit from tax reform.

“They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate. They said that in one case another country taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent,” he said.

Trump said in his speech that 94 million Americans are out of the labor force. While that figure is accurate, it includes many populations that have either chosen to not be employed or are not able to do so. That number counts, for example, teenagers, senior citizens, stay-at-home parents and the disabled.

Earlier in his address, Trump cited the stock market as a measuring stick for his administration’s success.

“The stock market has gained almost $3 trillion in value since the election on November 8th, a record,” Trump said in prepared remarks.

In comments last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he “absolutely” believes the market is a good indicator of economic progress.

While the S&P 500 has surged 11 percent since the election, the market is still a risky way to measure success.


Top: US President Donald Trump addressing a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images via  CNBC

SOURCE: CNBC’s Christine Wang with Jeff Cox contributing to this report.


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