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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios


In their quarterly conference calls with investors last week, retail CEOs were sounding the alarm about how a proposed round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products — on top of earlier rounds — could damage their businesses.

Why it matters: Retailers have been reporting strong earnings thanks to robust consumer demand. That's in danger after China/U.S. trade talks stalled, making tariffs — and price increases — more likely.

What executives said:

  • “We're concerned about tariffs because they would increase prices on everyday products for American families … When we're faced with tariffs or any other external factors, there are multiple levers we can pull to remain price competitive and maintain profitability.” — Brian Cornell, Target CEO
  • “We're working with our vendors and internally to assess any [tariff] impact to Kohl's. It is important to note that we have a nice diversity across our manufacturing base, and of course, the tariff hasn't yet been applied to apparel but we're, obviously, monitoring the situation closely.” — Bruce Besanko, Kohl's CFO
  • “We are aggressively working to mitigate the potential impact of these tariffs on our financial results while maintaining our customer value proposition.” — Laura Alber, Williams Sonoma CEO
  • “We are closely watching the evolving global issue concerning tariffs and trade … We believe we will have some flexibility to address the potential input of existing and proposed tariffs and remain committed to satisfying global consumers with our quality products.” — Fabrizio Freda, Estee Lauder CEO
  • “If U.S. goods become too expensive due to tariffs, Chinese consumers can shift to domestic producers or imports from other parts of the world … Over the years, China has become less reliant on exports so that the Chinese economy can withstand the imposition of tariffs on Chinese products.” — Joe Tsai, Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman

Go deeper: 8 Ways China’s Next Round of China Tariffs Could Pinch Consumers

Go deeper

Judge temporarily blocks South Carolina ban on school mask mandates

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked South Carolina's ban on mask mandates in schools, ruling that it discriminated against students with disabilities and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Why it matters: As mask bans extend to public schools around the country, parents and disability rights activists have sounded alarm bells. The ruling may signal the outcomes of legal fights playing out across the country.

DeSantis takes legal action against Biden efforts on immigration

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took legal action on Tuesday to try to stop the Biden administration's immigration plans.

Why it matters: The Republican governor, who is running for re-election next year and is possibly eyeing a 2024 presidential bid, is picking a high-profile fight with Biden while re-upping his hardline stance on immigration.

Left: Senate's threat "insane"

The famously press-shy Sen. Kyrsten Sinema speaks briefly with reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) lambasted Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday, saying "it's insane" that "one senator" is blocking attempts to settle on a palatable figure for President Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package.

Why it matters: The figure is the linchpin to getting progressive support for the companion $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. Khanna's statement reflects broader dissatisfaction among House progressives with Sinema and her fellow holdout, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

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