U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam visited McHenry County on Thursday morning to offer members of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce an update on the “state of play” in the economy.
“I’m encouraged about where the economy is going and where it is right now,” Roskam said, standing in front of a roomful of business owners in the basement of the Home State Bank at 611 S. Main St. in Crystal Lake. “We’ve got [an] 18-year unemployment low, we’ve got manufacturing confidence at a 20-year high ... and we’re very forward-leaning.”
The positive outlook is a product of “the tax changes that we’ve seen” and the “regulatory changes that we’ve seen,” Roskam said.
But there’s a looming debate that’s threatening the economy: trade relations and the tariff debate.
In the midst of a growing trade war between the U.S. and China, new tariffs imposed by the Chinese government, combined with decline in farm incomes and sporadic weather that has flooded acres of crops this year, has created difficult circumstances for local farmers.
“We’re the beneficiaries of trade relationships,” Roskam said. “We make and we sell a lot of things that go all over the world, and not only do our products go all over the world, but the transportation of those products is a big part of our economy.”
China’s tariffs came in retaliation of the $74 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods the Trump administration has enacted in the past six months. To help offset losses from these tariffs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week that it would be offering $12 billion in relief to burdened farmers.
“Donald Trump believes that tariffs at the border create wealth internally,” Roskam said. “I don’t believe that, and I’ve been vocal in opposing that.”
To Roskam, there should be no tariffs at the borders.
“In the best-case scenario, we win when tariffs are gone,” he said. “American products are so desired around the world when there [are] no tariff barriers.”
In the November election, the Wheaton Republican will defend his 6th District seat against Downers Grove businessman and Democrat Sean Casten.