As President Donald Trump continues to wage a tariff war with the world's second largest economy, a new poll finds that more and more Americans support free trade with other nations.
The U.S. is set to further increase tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of additional imports from China beginning on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15, in an escalating trade war with the nation. This follows other earlier threats of tariffs on nations such as Mexico.
It also follows earlier threats that all $300 billion in additional Chinese imports would get slapped with tariffs all at once next month -- until last week when the administration changed course suddenly and said that products like cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles, toys, computer monitors, and some footwear and clothing wouldn't see the tax until just before Christmas.
But just about two in three Americans prefer free trade with other nations, according to a national poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal published on Sunday.
That support for free trade is an "all-time high" for the poll, say the two news outlets. It's also a 7-point increase from the last time they asked poll respondents the question in 2017, and a 13-point jump from when the question was asked in 2015.
The topic has bi-partisan support, too, in a time of great political divide, said the poll that found that "majorities of Democrats and Republicans" agree that free trade is "good for America," opening new markets.
About a quarter of respondents -- 27% -- said they feel "free trade is bad," believing it harms manufacturing and other industries.
Also on Sunday, Larry Kudlow, director of the national economic council, defended the tariffs and the administration's ongoing trade war with China on NBC News' "Meet the Press" with Chuck Todd.
Kudlow said conversations between Washington and Beijing were continuing, and that "deputies both for the U.S. team and the Chinese team will be having a lengthy teleconference call, maybe more than one, in the next week or two to work out some new ground rules and topics which we believe will then lead to a visit from the China team to Washington, D.C., which will then allow us to continue to negotiate forward. My point is this. We are still talking to China. We are acting in our own interest. As I said, President Trump is defending the American economy. And he was not happy with the progress. So he slapped on the new -- we're putting tariff pressure on China. They are bearing the greatest part of the economic burden here. However, importantly, the talks are continuing. The negotiations are continuing."
In addition, Kudlow rejected fears of a looming recession.
"I sure don't see a recession," Kudlow told Todd, citing recent "blockbuster retail sales" and other data.
"And in fact, despite a lot of worries with the volatile stock market, most economists on Wall Street towards the end of the week had been marking up their forecasts for the third and fourth quarter. That echoes our view. You know, what we've got here -- consumers are working at higher wages. They are spending at a rapid pace. They're actually saving also while they're spending. That's an ideal situation. So I think actually the second half, the economy's going to be very good in 2019."