Steve Forbes, the chairman and CEO of Forbes Media, told PJM that GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is playing with fire on trade because unilateral taxes are not the way to deal with a country that violates trade laws.
“Tariffs are taxes and taxes are not part of my vocabulary. When a country violates the laws on trade you deal with it that way but unilateral taxes — I don’t like them,” Forbes said during an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
In the past, Trump has proposed slapping a 35 percent tax on cars made in Mexico as a way to prevent car companies from leaving the U.S.
Trump has also criticized the U.S. government for not addressing the large trade deficit with China, which was roughly $365 billion in 2015. Forbes was asked what he thinks should be done about the situation.
“The U.S. should put in a flat tax, gold-backed dollar, patient-controlled healthcare and all of the money will be coming to us,” he said.
When asked if he thinks Trump will win the GOP nomination, Forbes said, “we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks. I think the other candidates realize it’s now or never and they’re going to ramp up their game in terms of positive economic messages like Reagan did in 1980 and I think Trump will ramp us his game as well.”
Forbes appeared on a panel at CPAC titled “How Good Businesses Respond to Bad Government.”
He joked that the Environmental Protection Agency might not allow Congress to “throw out” the tax code because it is so “toxic.”
Forbes said federal agencies are legislating in America right now instead of Congress.
“The Constitution said Congress should pass laws — they pass too many, but by a ratio of 100 to 1 it is regulatory agencies that are legislating in America today with no accountability,” he said. “King George III, Louis XIV, King George III is probably wondering: How did I lose the revolution with the country I see today?”
Forbes called the Federal Reserve the “most monstrous” agency in Washington that hardly anyone is watching. He said Congress must reform the Fed.
The former GOP presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000 argued that the Fed’s manipulation of interest rates is a form of price control yet the public does not “bat an eyelash” over it.
“If the Federal Reserve announced tomorrow it was going to regulate the prices of Big Macs to stimulate the economy — lower prices, people would have more money to spend that would stimulate the economy — people would say you are overstepping the bounds,” he said.
He also lamented the slow growth of credit for small businesses at 6 percent.
“The old saying in the Soviet Union, ‘healthcare is free, but you can’t get any.’ In terms of credit, you look at the last 5 years, the growth of credit to government up 32 percent,” he said.