Trump’s Threatened Tariffs Hold Inflation Risk, McCormick Says

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David McCormick, the former hedge fund executive turned Republican Senate candidate, said he’s concerned that Donald Trump’s tariff proposals could stoke inflation, but blamed recent high prices on President Joe Biden’s spending and student loan forgiveness plans.

“I do think that there’s the risk of inflationary impact,” McCormick said Tuesday in an interview on Bloomberg Television when asked about Trump’s tariff hike plans.

“The Biden administration’s economic agenda has driven up inflation and made us more dependent on our primary adversary, and that’s why, as I’ve run for the Senate, I’ve advocated a set of policies that take us in the opposite direction,” McCormick said, referring to China.

Inflation is a defining issue for many voters this election cycle, with polls showing that persistently high prices have soured perceptions of Biden’s handling of the economy.

McCormick said he was “skeptical” of tariffs before Trump, but now says he supports “selective use” of trade levies to “ensure a fair playing field.” He added that a key way to grow the economy is to renew Trump’s 2017 tax cuts that are slated to expire next year.

Trump has pledged to enact 60% tariffs on imports from China and 10% duties on those from the rest of the world, a trade agenda that mainstream economists warn could amount to a tax increase for American households, raising prices on a broad assortment of goods, including autos, food and pharmaceuticals.

That tariff plan would also likely send inflation above the Federal Reserve’s target rate and pressure the bank to raise interest rates, Bloomberg Economics said in a report in April.

Trump’s proposals to hike tariffs on all imports, and use the proceeds to offset tax cuts has received a chilly reception from many economists. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers called Trump’s idea to replace income taxes with tariffs the “mother of all stagflation” that would create “worldwide economic warfare.”

McCormick’s race for the US Senate in Pennsylvania is one of the most closely-watched races of the cycle. Pennsylvania is a swing-state likely to help determine the outcome of Biden’s reelection bid against Trump and control of the upper chamber of Congress, where Democrats are fighting to hold onto their slim Senate majority.

McCormick’s personal wealth and strong Wall Street ties as the former chief executive officer of Bridgewater Associates are a major asset to Republicans as he seeks to unseat Democratic Senator Bob Casey. McCormick boasts several billionaires as donors, including Citadel’s Ken Griffin, Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman and Elliott Management’s Paul Singer, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

The list of supporters highlights the Republican party’s eagerness to retake Senate control in the 2024 elections with several Wall Street executives who opted to hold off donating in the GOP presidential primary fight instead putting their money into boosting the party’s chances in down-ballot races for the House and Senate.

Election Matchup

A June poll by Marist College found Casey is leading McCormick, 52% to 46%, among Pennsylvania registered voters — including those who are undecided but leaning toward a candidate.

McCormick also ran for Senate in 2022, losing the nomination to television personality Mehmet Oz, who won the support of Trump in that primary contest. Trump would attack McCormick during that race, calling him “the candidate of special interests and globalists and the Washington establishment.” Oz would go on to lose the race to Democratic Senator John Fetterman.

This time, McCormick has Trump’s endorsement, with the former president and presumptive Republican nominee offering his support at a rally in April. McCormick had endorsed Trump for president in March.

His campaign has raised $10.8 million, including $2 million from his own pocket, since he entered the race, and the super political action committee supporting his bid raised $21.5 million since it was formed in August, according to FEC filings.

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