How About If We Cut Tariffs to Zero on Light Cars and Trucks?

This is the highly regarded VW Amarok pickup truck. Would you like to buy one? Too bad! You can't.Volkswagen

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The German auto industry has suggested that the US and Europe become a free-trade zone in light vehicles:

That would mean scrapping the EU’s 10% tax on auto imports from the U.S. and other countries and the 2.5% duty on auto imports in the U.S….“Germany has the right approach to resolving this trade disagreement among friends,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “If the EU were to reduce its 10% tariff on U.S. cars and trucks, that would be a positive first step toward trade that was more fair and reciprocal.”

One catch is that the Europeans also want a 25% U.S. tax on imports of light trucks—pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles, and big vans—scrapped. Abolishing this relic of the Johnson administration could alienate U.S. auto workers, a core constituency for Mr. Trump in the midterms this fall. Mr. Ross didn’t comment on whether the U.S. would be willing to cut tariffs on trucks.

Well, this would sure call Trump’s bluff. As near as I can tell, scrapping the EU’s 10 percent tariff on American cars would have zero effect on European carmakers. Why? Because no one in Europe wants American-made cars in the first place. On the other hand, scrapping the 25 percent US tariff on light trucks would be a boon for European carmakers. I’m sure Trump has no idea that the US has a 25 percent tariff on European pickup trucks, but hey, that’s the problem when you mouth off on stuff you’re ignorant about, isn’t it?

In any case, this is precisely the kind of “level playing field” that Trump keeps insisting he wants, so he could hardly object. Europe ought to push hard on this, just as a way of embarrassing Trump. He’d have a hard time saying no, but the US auto industry would go nuts. The last thing they need is more competition in the lucrative light truck market from the likes of Fiat and Mercedes and Volkswagen. This could be fun.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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