Scared and Angry, a Proud Republican Blasts Trump China Tariffs

(Bloomberg) -- Small-business executive Mary Buchzeiger is a proud Republican who favors President Donald Trump’s tough line on trade. Still, she says his proposed tariffs on Chinese imports would be a huge mistake that would devastate her company.

“The tariffs proposed by President Trump would cripple my business and many like it in the Midwest,” according to Buchzeiger, the chief executive of the Michigan-based automotive supplier Lucerne International.

“The beating heart of what often is called ‘Trump Country’ would be stifled by the unintended consequences of these tariffs,” said Buchzeiger during a hearing Tuesday in Washington on the proposed tariffs.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office is holding a hearing through Thursday giving companies and business the chance to comment on proposed duties on about 1,300 products imported from China worth $50 billion. Trump proposed the duties in response to allegations of Chinese theft of intellectual property and unfair trade practices.

While some entities are arguing in favor of the tariffs or adding additional products to the target list, many are objecting on grounds the duties will raise prices on inputs and for consumers.

Lucerne, with about 40 employees, supplies components to the automotive and heavy truck industries, including door and hood hinges for the Jeep Wrangler, Buchzeiger said. Adding a 25 percent tariff on the components the company imports from China would amount to a tax on her firm that cannot be passed on, she said.

“I will essentially be forced out of business,” Buchzeiger testified. “I resent it. I’m angry, I’m frustrated, and honestly, I’m scared. Scared that my president is about to make a terrible mistake.”

Buchzeiger said while she agrees with Trump on trade and would like to get her inputs from U.S. producers, she has not found a single manufacturing facility that has the capacity to take on even one of the parts that the firm makes. She borrowed Trump’s campaign slogan to make her point.

“I truly wonder: Does President Trump know that these tariffs threaten the livelihood of so many American businesses?” she asked. “I don’t think he does. Because I know my president cares -- and I’ve got to believe he will change his mind, amend this policy, grant Lucerne an exemption and help companies like ours make America great again.”

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