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AP FACT CHECK: Trump on tariffs

February 6, 2019
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FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2018, file photo, a government officer distributes copies of a report on "the Facts and China's Position on China-U.S. Trade Friction" to journalists during a press conference at the State Council Information Office in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at one of President Donald Trump’s statements from his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and how it compares with the facts:

TRUMP: “We recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our treasury is receiving billions of dollars.”

THE FACTS: This is misleading. Yes, money from tariffs is going into the federal treasury, but it’s largely coming from U.S. businesses and consumers. It’s not foreign countries that are paying these import taxes by cutting a check to the government.

His reference to money coming into the treasury “now” belies the fact that tariffs go back to the founding of the country. This revenue did not start with his increased tariffs on some goods from China.

Tariffs did produce $41.3 billion in tax revenues in the last budget year, according to the Treasury Department. But that is a small fraction of a federal budget that exceeds $4.1 trillion.

The tariffs paid by U.S. companies also tend to result in higher prices for consumers, which is what happened for washing machines after the Trump administration imposed import taxes.

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