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CNN’s Erin Burnett and WH Official Peter Navarro Clash Over Tariffs: ‘May Not Sound Like a Lot of Money to You…’

CNN’s Erin Burnett and Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro faced off in a long, contentious segment about Trump’s China tariffs and their impact on American consumers:

From the moment he appeared, Navarro and Burnett began talking over and interrupting each other, as he disputed the idea that prices have risen for US consumers or businesses because of the first round of 25% tariffs the Trump administration put in place on some Chinese products last year. President Donald Trump is now threatening to put a 10% surcharge on the remaining Chinese imports.

“Tell me why with the latest tariffs — I understand you are making the case you think it’s worth it on steel and aluminum —that people should pay more?” Burnett asked. “What about toys, what about shoes, what about iPhones, what about $42 more on a La-Z-Boy.”

“If you look at the first $250 billion where we had 25% tariffs, we have seen zero inflation. So don’t get out the violin and start playing it about how consumers are going to somehow bear some burden,” Navarro replied before Burnett interrupted him.

“La-Z-Boy, they say they put a surcharge on specifically because of that tariff. They say that. I’m not estimating, that’s what they say. They say three to four percent…” Burnett tried to point out, before the segment devolved into crosstalk.

“Show me in the data where there is inflation, Erin,” Navarro countered.

“You’re citing overall inflation. I would too if I were you but I’m American whose paying more,” she shot back.

Navarro then claimed that the Chinese have devalued their currency to counter the effect of the Trump tariffs, so US businesses aren’t in fact having to pay more to import Chinese goods.

“If we raise tariffs on 10% — by 10% on $300 billion and China already devalued the currency by 10% over the last year, how can you get out your crocodile tears for consumer effects?” Navarro said, before effectively accusing US companies of lying about the reasons for raising prices. “It’s not happening. That’s the problem here. Nobody except the Retail Federation can point to anything. And they’re making stuff up.”

“Companies are saying in the most recent manufacturing data, where companies report, tariff surcharges are passed through to all consumers. We’ve heard it from car companies, we’ve heard it from…” Burnett reiterated before Navarro cut across her.

“I don’t — I don’t believe a word of that stuff. You’re not seeing it in the data,” a testy Navarro shot back.

“Are you literally saying they’re all lying?” Burnett asked.

“I’m not saying they’re all lying,” Navarro said, before once again clearly implying that US companies are lying. “I’m saying that I don’t see it — I’d rather see it in the data than hear it from multinational corporations that have a strong interest in shooting down our tariffs policy.”

But it’s not just multinational corporations saying that US consumers and businesses are bearing the burden of China tariffs. Just hours earlier, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto offered a direct debunking of the Trump administration’s claims. “China isn’t paying these tariffs, you are,” he explained. “It’s passed along to you through American distributors and their counterparts in the United States who buy this stuff from the Chinese and then have to pay the surcharges.

A Goldman Sachs economic analysis from earlier this spring also found that US companies and consumers had, in fact, paid higher prices because of Trump’s China tariffs put in place last year. “First, the costs of US tariffs have fallen entirely on US businesses and households, with no clear reduction in the prices charged by Chinese exporters,” the report concluded. “Second, the effects of the tariffs have spilled over noticeably to the prices charged by US producers competing with tariff-affected goods.”

At one point, Burnett told Navarro, “It may not sound like a lot of money to you, but to some people in this country it is”

Navarro shot back, “Don’t play that card, ’cause I come from poverty, Erin.”

“Then you know!” Burnett said. “Then you know that the cheapness of goods made in China has dramatically increased the standard of living in this country.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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