During Thursday’s Republican debate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio explained the burden of tariffs on the American people to businessman Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Trump stated that while he supports “free trade,” he simultaneously supports a tariff on Chinese goods:
I'm totally open to a tariff. If they don't treat us fairly. Hey, their whole trade is tariffed. You can't deal in China without tariffs. They do it to us, we don't it. It's not fair trade.
Kasich followed up by agreeing that he will “allow putting that tariff or whatever he’s [Trump’s] saying here.” Kasich also vocalized support for “fair trade” against countries that “dump product in this country.”
In response, Rubio stated the real cost of tariffs are incurred by the buyer of the products that are taxed:
We are all frustrated with what China is doing. I think we need to be very careful with tariffs, and here's why.
China doesn't pay the tariff, the buyer pays the tariff. If you send a tie or a shirt made in China into the United States and an American goes to buy it at the store and there's a tariff on it, it gets passed on in the price to the consumer.
Instead of advocating for a tariff, Rubio insisted the “better approach” to handling China is to reform the tax code and the regulatory system.
When Trump attempted to defend his position on tariffs, debate moderator Neil Cavuto insisted that Rubio was right.
“If you put a tariff on a good, it's Americans who pay,” Cavuto stated.