Tonight, 12 Democratic presidential hopefuls will be in Ohio to participate in the fourth Democratic primary debate. The Democratic Party strategically chose Ohio as one of the sites to host its debates because it is a key swing state that Democrats are determined to flip back in 2020. 

While it’s all but certain that health care will be discussed in the debate, I hope the candidates also mention President Trump’s trade war against China and the negative impact it’s having across the country, including in Ohio. So far, many of them have shied away from differentiating themselves from the president on this issue. But as news continues to come out showing the damage that the trade war and tariffs have caused, it’s clear this is an issue that’s impacting everyone — and it must be fixed. 

There’s a lot of misinformation out there on this issue, so I think it’s important that people know that tariffs are taxes paid by Ohio families, farmers, and businesses — not by foreign countries. Therefore, when President Trump says he’s putting a tariff on Chinese goods, what he really means is that he’s putting a tax on American businesses and consumers. 

From the start of the trade war in February 2018 to July 2019, Ohio paid over $1 billion in tariffs — and you can thank the president for that. On top of that, Ohio’s farmers and small businesses have faced $599 million in retaliatory tariffs from China, making it harder for them to sell their goods there. When it’s more expensive to import goods and harder to sell products abroad, companies usually start laying off workers. Trade supports 1.4 million jobs across Ohio, and President Trump’s trade war is threatening an estimated 76,500 of those jobs. 

But it’s not just in the Buckeye State where we are seeing the damage tariffs have caused. J.P. Morgan estimates tariffs will cost American households up to $1,000 a year. Additionally, farmer bankruptcies have risen in almost every region, according to a recent Farm Bureau report. Moreover, manufacturing has declined for the second month in a row, falling to the lowest level in 10 years. And Moody’s recently reported, “Trump’s trade war with China has already reduced U.S. employment by 300,000 jobs.” 

All of this makes it clear that the president’s trade war is hurting American businesses, farmers, and consumers – not China. And Americans realize that. Farmers across the country are fed up with the trade war and are feeling the one-two punch of tariffs from both America and China. And voters in Wisconsin, a state President Trump won in 2016 and needs to win in 2020, think tariffs hurt the economy by a 19-percentage-point margin, with 47% of those surveyed saying tariffs hurt the economy compared to 28% saying they help. 

Those numbers should signal to any Democrat running for president that differentiating themselves from President Trump on trade and presenting a real solution that holds China accountable without punishing American farmers, businesses, and consumers is an opportunity to not only expand their coalition for the primary election but to also sway voters when the general election comes around next year.  

As more voters notice the deteriorating economy and feel the effects of the president’s trade war, they are going to be looking for an alternative measure to Trump’s tariffs. One of the best solutions a candidate can provide is committing to rescinding the tariffs and reinstituting multilateral trade talks. America has always been strongest when we stand with our allies against the bullies of the world. The do-it-alone approach of President Trump has not worked. 

It’s fitting that the debate will be held on Oct. 15 – the day that tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods had been expected to rise from 25% to 30%, including on goods that Ohio companies need in order to keep their doors open. (The president announced a delay late last week.) Democrats should take advantage of this and outline their plan for ending the trade war during the debate. It is time for Democrats to lead on this issue and tell President Trump that enough is enough.