In addition to harming Americans who buy and build appliances, vehicles, and containers, President Trump’s import tariffs target other Americans for harm. Farm equipment will cost more. Homes and office buildings will be more expensive to build, buy, and rent. Bridges, rails, and tunnels will cost more. So will cell towers, pipelines, power plants, and water pumping stations. Agriculture Secretary Perdue and Transportation Secretary Chao cannot ignore these costs, even if Commerce Secretary Ross does.
Within any given budget, the Pentagon will be able to buy fewer rifles, bullets, tanks, ships, and airplanes. Secretary Mattis will get less bang for the buck.
There is indirect harm not included in Ross’ $9 billion number: Tariffs distort prices and decision-making, misallocating society’s resources and making everyone worse off.