Chris Hayes explains ‘the Trump plan to make everything more expensive’

As reports and surveys indicate a creeping nostalgia and collective amnesia about Donald Trump’s presidency, one of his worst ideas is gaining steam again: tariffs.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes spent the first part of his Wednesday night broadcast breaking down Trump’s campaign promise to add a 10% tariff to all imported goods. He explained how this cost “will just be passed along to consumers in a sales tax on every single good.” 

Americans are feeling the brunt of “greedflation,” and Hayes’ segment aimed to warn voters already worried over the rising cost of living in the United States about the “Trump tax.” 

“If you’re a single-issue inflation voter, there is only one candidate who wants to put a 10% tax that will be passed along to consumers as a sales tax on every single good that’s imported,” Hayes began.

You can read the full transcript below.

Chris Hayes: I know it sounds like I’m making this up, but genuinely, and I want to be clear here, his core economic policy proposal right now is an across-the-board consumer sales tax for every single good imported into the United States.

Now, he may call it a tariff, but it will just be passed along to consumers in a sales tax on every single good that is imported. And again, you do not need to take my word for it, just listen to Donald Trump himself.

Donald Trump: Number one, I think we should have a ring around the collar, as they say. I think when companies come in and they dump their products in the United States, they should pay automatically—let’s say a 10% tax.

“I’m a big believer in tariffs for two reasons. Number one, I fully believe in them economically when you’re being taken advantage of by other countries. I would say to China, if you’re building a plant on our border to build cars in Mexico and to sell them into the United States, I’m putting a 50% tariff on all those cars.

Maria Bartiromo: You used tariffs and sanctions against China.

Trump: I did, and I did very well with it. As you know, we took in hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes through the tariffs, taxes and tariffs.

Bartiromo: Is that what you want to do again?

Trump: We have to do it.

Hayes: Okay. If you’re a single-issue inflation voter, there is only one candidate who wants to put a 10% tax that will be passed along to consumers as a sales tax on every single good that’s imported. And here’s the thing, this is not a hypothetical. 

Trump did a miniature version of this last time he was president when he put tariffs on different Chinese goods.

Here’s how that worked out: According to analysis by the New York Fed, the average import tariff rate more than doubled in 2018 alone. It tangibly led to higher domestic consumer prices. Take the first two tariffs on washing machines and steel. Economists found that consumer prices for washing machines, which have been going down steadily since 2012, almost immediately jumped back up after Trump’s tariffs.

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Democratic-aligned Center for American Progress found that Trump’s proposed new tariffs would cost typical households an extra $1,500 dollars per year. Here’s what that might look like.

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Here’s the cost of living under the Trump tax. Start with groceries, which has been the site of a lot of angst, right?

A dozen eggs cost about $3. Once you apply the Trump tax, that goes up to $3.30 With the U.S. importing more than 4 million eggs a year, that could cost American consumers over $1.2 million dollars. If you like oranges, those currently go for about $1.53 per pound. With the 10% Trump tax, it would be $1.68 per pound—which would cost American consumers almost $71 million for the nearly half a billion pounds that we import.

Or how about bananas? We don’t really grow them in the U.S., do we? They average about $0.63 per pound, going up to $0.69 per pound with the Trump tax. And thanks to the U.S. importing more than 10 billion—with a “B”—pounds per year, that could cost Americans $609 million. That’s a $609 million tax on American consumers. 

Then there’s tomatoes. They go for about $2.13 per pound. Apply a 10% Trump tax. They would be $2.34 per pound, potentially costing Americans $3.5 million, thanks to the 16.5 million pounds we import per year.

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That’s more than even the peak of inflation in 2022, which topped off at 9%. This is 10%, okay? And it’s not just groceries.

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The average cost of a new fridge is about $1,300 dollars. With the Trump tax that could go up to $1,430 dollars, costing Americans $1.95 billion for the 15 million refrigerators that we import. Again, that’s $1.95 billion in new taxes.

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You need to drive to the grocery store? On average a new car costs about $48,808 today. With a Trump tax, it could cost $53,684, with Americans potentially taking a $66.3 billion hit across the more than 13 million cars we import. And that’s not even with the 50% tariff that he says he wants to slap on imported cars, which would make it another $25,000.

Even the smartphone in your pocket costs on average about $940 right now. With the Trump tax, that could go up to $1,034 with Americans potentially paying an extra $13.2 billion for the nearly 141 million smartphones we import per year. 

Everyone hates when you have to pay more for things. Inflation is one of the biggest vulnerabilities for a sitting president, and yet, here’s Donald Trump in the year of our Lord 2024, running against President Biden, promising to make things more expensive for every American.

President Joe Biden’s approval ratings have been improving since his fiery State of the Union speech—as we predicted. At the same time, the Republican Party cannot stop the infighting, even as Donald Trump’s takeover seems to be complete. Markos and Kerry get into Biden’s improving fundamentals as the race to save America heats up.

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