Trump’s trade war crusade is so bewildering even senior Republicans in the Senate are denouncing his latest initiative as misguided and dangerous.
Partly reacting to the fact the tariffs will clearly damage red states that supported Trump, Republicans have been hostile to the trade agenda all the year.
On Thursday they lashed out at the White House as Trump implemented tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) denounced Trump’s latest move as “bad news,” while the tariffs got called “dumb” by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). “We’ve been down this road before. Blanket protectionism is a big part of why America had a Great Depression. ‘Make America great again’ shouldn’t mean ‘make America 1929 again,'” Sasse said.
“My position remains unchanged: Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are a tax hike on Americans and will have damaging consequences for consumers, manufacturers and workers,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “In light of the mounting evidence that these tariffs will harm Americans, I will continue to push the administration to change course.”
And Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) called the new tariffs “basically higher taxes on American consumers,” adding, “This is a big mistake.”
A recent study by the Brookings Institute showed that 12 of the 15 states that will likely take the biggest tariff hits are red states.
In March, the administration announced import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, with temporary exemptions initially extended to Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. But it was announced that those exemptions will end on Thursday at midnight.
“American consumers will almost certainly be hit with higher prices due to the tariffs, and a slew of major industries are warning of tens of thousands of job losses in the U.S. due to increased costs and retaliation from trading partners,” Buzzfeed notes.
Economists across the board have warned of the consequences. Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs denounced Trump’s protectionist tariff agenda, concluding it would make America “less competitive” in the world marketplace.
More recently, the White House has threatened to slap a 25 percent tax on every automobile imported into the U.S., a move that would drive up the consumer price of those cars by $6,000, as well as kill an estimated 157,000 American jobs.
Yet Trump plows on as his own party denounces his choices in vain.