Jeff Flake to Write Bill to Nullify Trump Tariffs

The Washington Post  The Washington Post

The looming departure of White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who has opposed the promised tariffs, set off anxiety among business leaders and investors anxious about a potential trade war.

Republicans worked for days both behind the scenes and with public pleas to try to get Trump to back down, or significantly curtail, his threat of tariffs.

Flake said the new tariffs, which function as taxes on imports, of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum would be detrimental to the USA economy and must be stopped.

They would rather see the tariffs imposed just on certain countries that are dumping exports. The conservative Washington Examiner, editorialising against the tariffs, notes that this delegation was "part of a disturbing trend of Congress handing excessive power over to the president".

US trade policy has always been written with the intent to give the president broad authority to handle worldwide trade without Congress nitpicking.

Ryan urged Trump to be more "surgical", while McConnell noted on Tuesday that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had been a "winner" for his state.

"Our factories were left to rot, and to rust all over the place".

European Union leader Jean-Claude Juncker also warned President Trump against imposing the tariffs, saying that EU nations would retaliate by placing similar tariffs on USA imported products like Kentucky bourbon and blue jeans. "You guys know that, right?"

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Trump says a 25 percent tariff will be added to steel and a 10 percent tariff will apply to aluminum. Trade wars are not won, they are only lost.

Even Senator Tom Cotton, a reliable ally of the president, made the case against the tariffs.

Several lawyers were skeptical that a court would block the president. Lawmakers like Roberts fear retaliation from foreign nations on US exports, and agriculture is primed to take a hit. Canada and Mexico are exempt, and the White House has invited other nations to bargain for their own carveouts.

"I'm not sure there are any winners in trade wars", said Johnson, who ran a plastics manufacturing business in Wisconsin before being elected to the Senate. A WTO decision wouldn't halt US tariffs, but rather authorize retaliation from trading partners.

"Put simply, the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports threaten to undermine that success", Hatch wrote. But it may be hard to get a veto-proof majority with some Democrats supporting Trump's action. Flake of Arizona said he wants quick action on his proposal "before this exercise in protectionism inflicts any more damage on the economy". "Congress can not be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster". Johnson demanded a host of data from the administration pertaining to its process of deciding to impose the tariffs.

Trump's audience includes a number of steelworkers along with administration officials.

"The tariffs on steel and aluminum risk undermining these positive economic developments by increasing input costs to American manufacturing and steel-dependent industries employing more than 17 million workers", he said.

Turning a bill of that type into law would accomplish three good ends: stopping an economically destructive policy; promoting a healthier balance between the legislative and executive branches; and putting some distance between the Republican Party and Trump.

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