Like Otis Redding, I’ve watched some interesting things roll by in the past week.

Last Thursday, the Commerce Department convened a hearing to determine whether imported autos and parts represent a threat to national security. Only one of the 45 hearing witnesses – and only three of the 2400 written comments submitted – answered (somewhat) in the affirmative.

For his part, the President has already announced he’d like to see tariffs of 25 percent on imported cars and parts as a response.

And speaking of the President, on Monday he hosted a Made in America product showcase. One of the products sitting on the South Lawn, along with a full-scale model of the F-35 fighter and Moon Pies, was a Ford F-150 truck.

The F-150 is a fine product, as evidenced by the fact that it’s perennially the best-selling vehicle in the United States. But only 65 percent of its content is American[1]. Which means that about a third of the truck would be subject to that 25 percent tariff. Since the most expensive, fully-loaded F-150 sells for about $70,000, that tariff translates to an additional tax of well over $5,000.

Even more interesting, the Toyota Tundra has about the same level of American content as the Ford. The Honda Ridgeline, to name another pickup truck, has even more American content.

Sitting on the dock watching the trucks roll by, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that something’s off about this picture. That something involves the fact that the event was only open to American-owned companies, leaving the highest achievers on the sidelines.[2]

 

[1] Percentages based on 2018 AALA data, https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/2017_aala_percent_year.pdf

[2] AP Fact check, https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/07/24/us/politics/ap-us-trump-made-in-america-fact-check.html