Good or bad, it was crucial to take China on: Donald Trump

Updated: Aug 22, 2019, 13:04 IST | Agencies

US president indicates he had no choice but to impose tariffs that have been a drag on US manufacturers, financial markets and, by some measures, American consumers

Donald Trump. Pic/AFP
Donald Trump. Pic/AFP

Washington: President Donald Trump acknowledged on Tuesday his aggressive China trade policies may mean economic pain for Americans but insisted they're needed for more important long-term benefits. He contended he does not fear a recession but is nonetheless considering new tax cuts to promote growth.

Asked if his trade war with China could tip the country into recession, Trump brushed off the idea as "irrelevant" and said it was imperative to "take China on." "It's about time, whether it's good for our country or bad for our country short term," he said.

Paraphrasing a reporter's question, Trump said, "Your statement about, 'Oh, will we fall into a recession for two months?' OK? The fact is somebody had to take China on." The president indicated that he had no choice but to impose the tariffs that have been a drag on US manufacturers, financial markets and, by some measures, American consumers.

Trump was clear that he didn't think the nation is at risk of a recession and that a boom was possible if the Federal Reserve would slash its benchmark interest rate. "We're very far from a recession," Trump said. "In fact, if the Fed would do its job, I think we'd have a tremendous spurt of growth, a tremendous spurt."

Yet he also said he is considering a temporary payroll tax cut and indexing to inflation the federal taxes on profits made on investments —moves designed to stimulate faster growth.

He downplayed any idea that these thoughts indicate a weakening economy, saying, "I'm looking at that all the time anyway." Asked about his remarks, White House spokesman Judd Deere said, "The president does not believe we are headed for a recession. The economy is strong because of his policies."

Trump faces something of an inflection point on a US economy that appears to be showing vulnerabilities after more than 10 years of growth. Factory output has fallen and consumer confidence has waned as he has ramped up his trade war with China.

In private, Trump and his advisers have shown concern that a broader slowdown, if not an outright recession, could arrive just as he is seeking re-election based on his economic record.

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