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IN THE NEWS: Cummins CEO makes clear that Seymour workers are the real casualties of tariffs in op-ed

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana manufacturers are getting slammed by new tariffs with no help in sight, as Cummins’ CEO Tom Linebarger wrote in the New York Times last week. The firm has helped southern Indiana thrive, with major facilities in Columbus, Seymour, and Indianapolis – yet Linebarger makes clear that the new tariffs that Rep. Braun supports will simply bring about harm for the thousands of Hoosier workers the company employs. “American workers and their families will be the real casualties of a trade war” as major drivers of the economy struggle with volatile and increasing tariffs, he writes.

From the New York TimesA Message From a C.E.O.: Tariffs Are Going to Hurt American Companies

Cummins employs about 1,000 people in Seymour, and we have invested more than $300 million into the plant in the past seven years, including a technical center that employs hundreds of engineers. In the past year, we have added nearly 50 employees. While other small towns are struggling, Seymour is thriving.

However, increased supply-chain costs because of the recent tariffs will raise the price of the products from Seymour. We may also face retaliatory tariffs, which could result in lost sales and restrict or reverse our growth.

Let’s be clear: a tariff is a tax, plain and simple. For Cummins, the impact of tariffs on steel and aluminum, tariffs applied to products we bring to the United States, as well as retaliatory tariffs imposed on products we export to other countries will be difficult to mitigate even with the benefits of tax reform. And this does not take into account the latest and additional proposed tariffs, nor does it include the indirect costs that, inevitably, will be passed through to us and other companies like us by suppliers.

These tariffs put us in a worse position now than when we started these negotiations, and we are concerned there is no end in sight. Because of this uncertainty, companies like ours are standing still, unclear on how and where to invest. Even an imperfect trade deal — one that gets us a bit closer to a level playing field — is better than no trade deal, and no trade deal is better than implementing tariffs.

We see no upside in the implementation of tariffs. They are a tax, and the risky proposition of entering a trade war could slow down the economy. Even putting up short-term barriers with trading partners in China and Europe can cause long-term losses in market share, resulting in lost jobs in the United States. The mere threat of tariffs results in significant costs for Cummins that cannot be recovered.

As the leader of Cummins, I am charged with providing opportunities for shareholders, customers, employees and our communities and working with policymakers to create a healthy climate for business. What’s at stake is not just the company’s profits, but jobs in Seymour and other communities where we work, such as Rocky Mount, N.C., and Jamestown, N.Y. This is what concerns me most. American workers and their families will be the real casualties of a trade war.

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