President Donald Trump said that any negative impact on the U.S. economy from his trade war with China was worth it, because "somebody had to take on China."
What did Trump say?
"Whether it's good or bad short-term is irrelevant," Trump told reporters in the White House on Tuesday. "We have to solve the problem with China. Because they're taking our $500 billion a year plus, and that doesn't include intellectual property theft. And other things. And also national security. So I am doing this whether it's good or bad — for your statement about 'oh, will we fall into a recession for two months?
"The fact is, somebody had to take China on. My life would have been a lot easier if I didn't take China on. But I like doing it, because I have to do it. And we're getting great results."
This seems to contradict Trump's earlier statements that trade wars "are good, and easy to win," and that the U.S. would be boosted by the collection of tariffs on Chinese imports. While Trump has insisted that China will pay these tariffs, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow admitted in May that China did not pay the tariffs.
The $500 billion that Trump mentioned refers to the $540 billion in goods that the U.S. purchased from China last year. The U.S. also sold $120 billion in goods to China, leading to a $420 billion trade deficit between the two countries. While Trump has repeatedly bashed the existence of this trade deficit, some economists argue that this is an indicator of U.S. citizens having more disposable income.
Due to Trump's trade war, U.S. imports to and exports from China have decreased. In the first half of 2019, U.S. exporters sold $12 billion less to China than they had the following year, according to data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.
On Tuesday, an attendee at a GOP donor luncheon in Wyoming told Politico that Trump's Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney told those at the luncheon that there could be the possibility of a recession but that it would be "moderate and short."