Steve Forbes Criticizes Trade War: 'Tariff Is Another Word For Sales Tax'

The 2020 presidential race is a debate about what kind of a country Americans want in the future, and it’s the kind of debate that took place before the Civil War and again in the 1890s, Steve Forbes told the Detroit Economic Club on Monday.

Benzinga · 01/13/2020 19:21

The 2020 presidential race is a debate about what kind of a country Americans want in the future, and it’s the kind of debate that took place before the Civil War and again in the 1890s, Steve Forbes told the Detroit Economic Club on Monday.

“We’ve had these debates before. We’ll probably have another one in 40 or 50 years,” he said. “But what’s amazing about this country is we always find a way to renew and move ahead.”

Forbes On Taxes: ‘Most Wealth Is Not Ready Cash’

Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, twice sought the Republican Party nomination for the presidency, in 1996 and 2000.

He touched on his signature policy proposal Monday — the flat tax — while arguing the tax proposals put forth by Democratic candidates like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren reflect a misunderstanding of wealth.

“Most wealth is not ready cash. Most wealth is an asset, like a house, a factory, a patent or a way of doing things,” Forbes said.

If Forbes had his way, the biblically long U.S. tax code would be replaced with a simple flat tax, and the death tax would be eliminated altogether.

“You should be able to leave this world unmolested by the IRS,” he said.

See Also: Insights Into S&P 500 Performance During Presidential Elections

The Trade War Overhang

The U.S. economy is doing well, with rising wages and a bullish stock market, Forbes said, adding that the volume of business creation by Latino and African American entrepreneurs is an underreported story.

“The big overhang has been trade,” he said. “I’m no fan of tariffs. Tariff is another word for sales tax.”

The U.S. should take a more “laserlike” approach of going after individuals and companies that violate trade rules with consistent enforcement — and should use the World Trade Organization process, Forbes said.

“Instead of growing at 3%, we’re growing at a little more than 2%” due to the trade war, he said.

Forbes Betting On Detroit

Forbes chose Detroit as the host of its annual 30 Under 30 Summit for three years through 2021.

“We at Forbes have been amazed at the comeback of this city. That’s why we chose Detroit,” the magazine’s namesake said.

At the October event, presented by Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage, Benzinga spoke with Ark Invest CEO Catherine Wood about her $6,000 price target for Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA).

Forbes was asked Monday to describe the Motor City in one word.

“Opportunity,” he said. “It’s here.”

Screenshot courtesy of Detroit Public Television and the Detroit Economic Club.