Home and business owners who have been devastated by damage from Hurricane Florence are now facing another disaster: the costs of rebuilding.
According to an article in The New York Times, the costs to rebuild after the flood waters recede in the Carolinas and Virginia will be in the range of 20% to 40% higher because of Donald Trump’s trade war.
The Times interviewed officials in the construction industry who were very clear in saying that the Trump administration’s new tariffs will add significantly to the costs of rebuilding at a time when many people can least afford it.
For example, they said that Trump’s new tariffs on many Chinese goods (including kitchen countertops and all types of furniture) will make reconstruction costs at least 20 to 30 percent more expensive than they would have been without the trade duties.
And on top of that, prices for wood and similar construction materials have increased by about 40 percent over last year.
The Times article pointed out that Trump added a large new tariff on softwood lumber imports from Canada last year. When coupled with price rises due to increased demand and smaller supply, there has been devastating inflation in the prices of all the materials needed to rebuild from the devastating impact of the hurricane.
Most people agree that major new tariffs on imports put in place by the Trump administration earlier this year have driven up costs significantly.
“We’re all going to pay the price for Trump’s tariffs in the form of higher construction costs,” said Alan Banks, president of the North Carolina Home Builders Association.
The Times also disclosed that property and casualty insurance companies will only cover a small portion of rebuilding costs from Florence.
Most of the damage suffered in the Florence disaster areas has been caused by flooding, and flood damage isn’t covered in a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. To get flood coverage, a special rider must be purchased to add to the basic policy. And it has been reported that only a small portion of the homes in the Carolinas have flood insurance riders.
One building contractor in North Carolina told The Times that he was already forced to stop one project because of the high prices, and that he believes costs will increase in the wake of the hurricane, making reconstruction unaffordable for many people.
“In the short term, it is definitely hurting us,” the contractor said. “I hope that going through all this pain is worth it in the end. We’ve got a tariff war going on with China and Canada, and the result was that I couldn’t move ahead with building affordable housing.”
Due to Trump‘s policies, the U.S. has been in a trade war with China over the past few months. Both countries have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of imports, raising prices domestically.
On Saturday China announced that it was cancelling planned trade talks with the U.S. over the most recent round of tariffs announced this past week. Our largest trading partner said that none of the United States‘ actions have “given any impression of sincerity and goodwill.”
Trump is proud of continuing his trade war, but he doesn’t seem to be aware that most of the casualties of his war are being suffered by Americans.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.