Biden Announces Tariffs on Chinese Steel and Aluminum, Expands Student Loan Forgiveness

Biden imposes 25% tariffs on Chinese steel/aluminum, offers student loan relief ahead of 2024 election, drawing criticism for economic impact.

Waqas Arain
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Biden Announces Tariffs on Chinese Steel and Aluminum, Expands Student Loan Forgiveness

Biden Announces Tariffs on Chinese Steel and Aluminum, Expands Student Loan Forgiveness

President Biden has announced a 25% tariff on certain Chinese steel and aluminum products, as well as additional student loan forgiveness that will benefit millions of borrowers. The moves are seen as politically motivated ahead of the 2024 election but have been criticized as economically regressive.

The tariffs focus on Chinese steel and aluminum imports not already subject to a 25% duty imposed during the Trump administration. While Chinese imports account for less than 1% of U.S. steel demand, the Biden administration has suggested potential trade actions in other sectors as well. The tariff push is part of Biden's efforts to appeal to working-class voters, particularly the United Steelworkers union, who have increasingly supported Republicans in recent elections.

Biden is also seeking to differentiate his approach from Trump's broad tariffs that could have harmed American consumers. "We're not looking to be punitive," said one senior administration official. "But we have to level the playing field for our workers and businesses." However, critics argue the higher costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers.

On the student loan front, Biden announced plans to eliminate up to $20,000 in accrued interest for certain borrowers, automatically forgive debt for eligible public service workers, and cancel loans for those repaying for over 20 years. The White House says over 30 million Americans could benefit, building on previous actions providing $146 billion in relief for 4 million borrowers.

Why this matters: The tariff and student loan moves reflect political challenges Biden faces in shoring up his blue-collar and youth support ahead of a tough re-election bid, while also managing an economy facing high inflation and a potential recession. The measures will likely face pushback from free trade advocates and fiscal conservatives.

China has strongly condemned the new U.S. tariffs, with the Chinese Commerce Ministry calling the accusations of unfair practices "baseless" and the restrictions "unilateral and protectionist." The escalating tensions between the world's two largest economies have raised concerns about global economic stability as the U.S. and its allies increasingly seek to limit China's economic influence in strategic sectors.

Key Takeaways

  • Biden imposes 25% tariffs on certain Chinese steel, aluminum products
  • Tariffs aim to appeal to working-class voters, but may harm consumers
  • Biden announces up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness for borrowers
  • Measures reflect Biden's efforts to shore up blue-collar, youth support
  • China condemns new U.S. tariffs as "unilateral and protectionist"