Sadly, more than once I've seen worse garbage from "premium" brands than what could be bought with better quality at or near the bottom of the price range (Danaher vs Griz/HF).
But back to the tariffs. I don't know nearly enough to understand all the complexities, but it seems to me that the political flag waving point is bringing jobs back. Like the tax code changes, that can be successful in some areas, though alone it isn't enough to override other dominating motivators in many areas. But while I fear the consumer impact of the proposed tariffs, something needs to be done about the disparity between just about every other country vs the US regarding import tariffs.
While we were coasting on the inertia of our past GNP glories as we transitioned into a "service based consumer economy" (oxymoron?), following the grossly unbalanced trade model did yield short term benefits (see MBA comments in another thread) to consumers, but ultimately logical conclusion is that it had to end either in trade war (since the imbalance is now the accepted norm, don't rock the boat!!!) or with the US becoming a semi 3rd world economy. I say "semi" because it seems the general downward shift from super power to 2nd or 3rd world nation results in a huge disparity between the ever more stratified lower income largely unskilled working class masses and the (generally technical) lower-upper class group. Most of the blue collar middle class moving to lower with a handful of the more industrious pushing into the lower upper, this eliminating a practical middle class. If the trade imbalance continues unchecked, then it seems to me that pattern will continue until it reaches (more) completely unsustainable levels.
So at this point, based on my limited understanding, I don't think we really have any sane choice other than (risk? guarantee?) a trade war, and live with the consequences, which include higher priced consumer goods which will be very painful compared to what we have come to expect. And I'm afraid that means a return to the way things were in 50s through 70s and 80s when capital goods (like machine tools) were not affordable for hobby use. It wasn't so much the cheap Chinese (etc) product that made the difference, it was the huge imbalance in trade overhead that made the most difference.
The likely trade war will make things more uncomfortable for a while, but if the outcome is a balanced (hopefully more sustainable) trade system, I don't think we'll ever again see raw materials (steel, aluminum, etc) or products (like import lathes, mills, HF, etc) at such affordable prices to provide a relatively low entry point to this hobby. However, it could help stop the increasing near caste system stratification we are seeing forming now.
If things go the way I expect, I think 10 years from now folks will be talking of rebuilding a clapped out Chinese import lathe the way they talk about rebuilding a Clausing or the like as an entry point machine now. Griz and others will have no choice but to move closer to the price range of current players like Victor (lower end industrial), or drop below the HF level, which will still be higher than the current Griz prices.
This last 20-ish years may well become known as the golden age (final age?) of the machine tool hobby. Even now I remember when it was cheaper to build things from steel than wood, and that has already passed into history. Soon, amature/hobby fabrication may also become completely impractical...
Master Floor Sweeper