Pete Buttigieg: "Fool's Errand" To Think You Can Change Fundamentals Of China's Economy With A Few Tariffs


Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that "both sides will lose" President Trump's trade war with China and that it is "a fool’s errand to think you’re going to be able to get China to change the fundamentals of their economic model by poking them in the eye with some tariffs."

CNN, JAKE TAPPER: You just heard my interview with the president's trade adviser, Peter Navarro. President Trump says taking his tariffs off China now would be -- quote -- "economic surrender," saying the U.S. cannot make a trade deal without dialing up more pressure.

You have vowed to lift those tariffs if you become president. What makes you think China would make a trade deal with you as president without the kind of pressure that President Trump is now exerting with these tariffs?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, we have a lot of different forms of leverage in the relationship. But it's also a fool's errand to think you're going to be able to get China to change the fundamentals of their economic model by poking them in the eye with some tariffs.

And, by the way, despite all -- all of the noise from that previous interview, there are some basic facts here that you can't escape. And one of them is that American farmers are getting killed.

I was just in Iowa in rural parts of the state talking with a lot of farmers, who -- many of whom are Republicans or supported this president, and are now asking the question, how much longer are we supposed to take one for the team?

The president has said repeatedly that he's on the cusp of getting a deal. The president has failed to deliver a deal. And I expect he will continue to do so.

And, in the meantime, we're paying the cost of these tariffs. We're going to see even more in the prices of consumer goods. The president apparently is aware of this, because he said he was going to delay them until Christmas.

What are we supposed to do after Christmas? There is clearly no strategy for dealing with the trade war in a way that will actually lead to results for American farmers or American consumers.

And part of the reason is that this is not what it's going to take to actually guide China into a different direction. This is going to -- this is about a lot more than just some tariffs.

Look, you consider the position that China is in now, and you consider our loss of domestic competitiveness, because we're not even investing at home in education, infrastructure, health, the things that are going to allow us to be a world leader into the 21st century. If we're neglecting that, none of this is going to matter.

Meanwhile, you have got an economy that is not working for most Americans. There's a big debate going on right now over whether we're on the cusp of a recession. I think we probably are.

But the more important thing is, even during an expansion, most Americans haven't been able to get ahead. That is a huge problem. And the president has made it abundantly clear that he doesn't care.

When it comes to rural America, I think, to him, it's just the scenery that he sees out the helicopter window on the way to his golf course. And when it comes to American consumers, he is completely out of touch with the impact it's going to have on the prices we pay for our goods as a result of a trade war in which both sides will lose.

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