This is how I understand it , and it seems kind of simple , really.
A lot of the cheap stuff that people buy from places from Walmart are manufactured in China.
When our government places an extra tariff (tax) on such goods , obviously the prices will increase.
In theory , that should make consumers buy more expensive American made goods , if they are available .
Which should help with our trade deficit , if one sees it as a major issue.
However , anyhow you slice it , prices on these items will go up , which will mostly affect people who shop in places like Walmart , who are not our wealthiest citizens , and many of whom voted for Donald Trump.
To simplify even further , the idea behind tariffs is to make foreign goods more expensive ant therefore less attractive to the consumer , forcing him to buy local instead.
The downside however is when the other country retaliates , and tariffs your exports making your products more expensive in his country , lowering his need to import from your country , and thereby having a negative effect on your economy. And that’s when it becomes a “trade war”
Like I said , this is how I understand it.
Do feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.