Fact-checking Trump’s South Lawn remarks on Obama and China tariffs
President Donald Trump made a number of false claims during a lengthy exchange with reporters on the White House South Lawn Friday morning before departing for a weekend in New Jersey.
Here’s our fact check:
In responding to a question about the veracity of his previous statements that President Barack Obama had “begged” for meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump defended his claim and repeated it.
“He called Kim Jong Un on numerous occasions to meet,” Trump said. “President Obama wanted to meet with Kim Jong Un, and Kim Jong Un said no. Numerous occasions he called.”
Facts First: As CNN laid out in an extensive fact check earlier this week, there is no evidence Obama ever tried to secure a meeting with Kim Jong Un, let alone that he “called” North Korea on “numerous occasions.”
Multiple former Obama officials, including former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, have gone on the record to declare Trump’s claim false. Independent experts contacted by CNN also said Trump was wrong.
Obama’s administration did conduct occasional diplomatic outreach to North Korea, but its primary intent was to convince Kim Jong Un and his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il to return to the six-country negotiations that had collapsed. No presidential summit is known to have been floated at any point.
Obama pursued a policy, commonly known as “strategic patience,” of declining to directly engage with the Kims’ regime at all, let alone at the presidential level, as long as they refused to stop their belligerent behavior.
Tariffs on China
Trump again claimed that China is single-handedly paying for the US tariffs.
“(B)y the way, billions and billions of dollars of tariffs are coming in and China is paying for it, not our people.”
Facts First: No matter how many times Trump makes this claim (and he’s made it a lot recently), it’s false to say that China is paying the tariffs. The majority of the costs of these tariffs fall on American consumers and businesses.
CNN’s Fact First team has looked into this claim from Trump several times. Here’s what we found:
Economic studies have found that US consumers bear the majority of the weight of these tariffs, not China.
Two recent papers have found that tariffs on Chinese goods have raised prices on American consumers because importers often pass along the tariff price tag to domestic producers, which sometimes increase the price of their product to cover the cost, and sometimes eat the cost themselves.
A March paper from economists at Columbia, Princeton and the New York Federal Reserve found that the “full incidence” of Trump’s tariffs have fallen on domestic companies and consumers — costing them $3 billion a month by the end of 2018. The paper also found that the tariffs led to a reduction in US income, by $1.4 billion a month.
A separate academic paper also found that the tariffs led to higher consumer prices. It estimated that the tariffs will result in a $7.8 billion per year decline in income.
The Chinese supplier might take on some of the burden of the tariff by reducing its prices to maintain a market in the United States, but these studies show that the burden heavily falls on US consumers and companies.
For their part, the White House’s Economic Report of the President, also released in March, acknowledged that American consumers do pay some of the cost of these tariffs. Domestic producers, according to the report, benefit from price increases from the tariffs, but “offsetting these benefits are the costs paid by consumers in the form of higher prices and reduced consumption.”
This story is being updated