(Bloomberg) -- Former Vice President Mike Pence accused Donald Trump of abandoning his commitment to low taxes, saying his former running mate’s proposal for a 10% universal tariff would cost US jobs and worsen inflation for American families.
“The policies that he’s advancing now — which include a 10% tax on all imports into the United States that the Tax Foundation said will cost 500,000 jobs — is directly the opposite of our administration and the legacy of cutting taxes for individuals and businesses,” Pence said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg Television, the day after the second Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, California.
Pence called the Trump plan the largest tariff proposal “literally since the Herbert Hoover administration.” Economic historians blame those 1930 tariffs for worsening the Great Depression.
Existing tariffs adopted during the Trump presidency — and largely retained by President Joe Biden — shaved 0.2% off the economy and cost 166,000 jobs, according an analysis by the conservative Tax Foundation. Trump has proposed buttressing those specific tariffs, largely targeted at China, with an across-the-board tax on all goods coming into the US, from any country. The proposal would cost American consumers $300 billion a year and cost 550,000 US jobs, the group says.
Read more: Trump’s Tariff Proposal Would Cut 0.7% From GDP, Study Says
Pence said he’s frustrated that Trump refuses to debate and defend his positions, which also include opposing a national abortion ban and Ukraine aid.
“He should have been there last night,” Pence said of the debate. “No one is entitled to the nomination of their party, and frankly Donald Trump continues to campaign as though he were the incumbent president. But he has less than 50% support of Republicans. That means half of Republicans are looking somewhere else.”
Trump’s support is at 56.6% in the RealClearPolitics average of national GOP polls. But in the crucial early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — where his rivals have been aggressively campaigning — his support is below 50%.
Despite high name recognition, Pence remains ensconced in the middle of the pack of challengers. He’s polling in fifth place in the GOP race, at just above 4% in national polls. That figure all but guarantees him a spot at the next debate in Miami in November, but it’s just half of the support Pence had before Trump officially jumped into the race last year.
Pence and six other candidates sought a breakout moment Wednesday to separate themselves from the GOP pack. Pence clashed with his rivals on stage, saying he had done a better job reining in government spending than Florida Governor Ron DeSantis when the two were in the House and jabbing at first time candidate Vivek Ramaswamy over his political inexperience.
--With assistance from Joe Mathieu and Annmarie Hordern.
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