Pushback against Trump’s tariff proposals

Widespread concerns over Donald Trump’s steel and aluminium tariff proposals, and the threat of a trade war, are so far being dismissed by the White House.

Politico: Frustrated White House free traders mount campaign to weaken Trump tariffs

Since President Donald Trump announced plans last week to hit steel and aluminum imports with new tariffs, his trade adviser Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have been all over television celebrating their victory and rebutting suggestions that the move would incite a damaging trade war.

But economic adviser Gary Cohn and other free-trade advocates inside the White House and the Treasury Department are mounting a last-ditch effort to blunt the impact of Trump’s head-turning decision, even as the president insisted Monday that he wasn’t going to be convinced out of it.

Cohn and like-minded officials in the administration are hoping the parade of senior GOP lawmakers, donors, lobbyists and business groups loudly opposing the pending decision will convince Trump that his proposed tariffs will damage the U.S. economy. There was a growing sense among some administration officials that the best way to talk Trump out of the tariffs was to make sure he hears from people outside of the White House, since he’s ignoring advisers inside the building.

RNZ:  Republicans ‘extremely worried’ by Trump’s metal tariffs plan

US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that steel imports would face a 25 percent tariff and aluminium 10 percent.

US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he was “extremely worried” about the impact of a trade war, adding that it could undermine economic gains.

But Mr Trump pushed back during a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We’re not backing down,” he told reporters on Monday. “I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday that Mr Trump was “very confident” the US would win any trade war.

Mr Trump’s Monday comments came an hour after Mr Ryan released a statement urging the White House to reconsider its plan.

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” Mr Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

“The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardise those gains.”

Many countries and trade groups have expressed concern, including the UK, EU, Canada, Australia (and New Zealand). And also the World Trade Organisation:

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday also called on member states to “stop the fall of the first dominoes” of a trade war.

“Once we start down this path it will be very difficult to reverse direction,” WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo told negotiators in Geneva on Monday. “An eye for an eye will leave us all blind and the world in a deep recession.”

There is also pushback from within the US:  Companies, industry groups target Congress to derail Trump tariffs

Automakers, business groups and farmers took their fight against U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum to Capitol Hill on Monday, betting that Republican lawmakers would stand up to the White House on their behalf.

By turning to Congress, lobbyists for industries that could lose in a trade war are making a bet that Republican lawmakers would stick to their traditional support for open trade, and potentially use legislative power to derail tariffs.

Trump and administration trade officials over the weekend said they are determined to go ahead with protective tariffs for steel and aluminum, despite the potential for retaliation by trading partners.

Industry groups opposed to the tariffs got support on Monday from House Speaker Paul Ryan and other senior Republicans. Some Democratic lawmakers from auto-producing states have praised Trump’s move, joining unions long skeptical of open trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA).

Automakers are reaching out to senators and governors and asking them to make the case against tariffs to the White House, officials said.

Manufacturers of metal-intensive products such as cars and airplanes already are wrestling with rising prices for steel and aluminum, in part because of tight production capacity.

Administration officials in TV interviews over the weekend downplayed the impact on automakers as adding only up to about $200 to the price of a vehicle — a fraction of the average $35,000 sales price. However, Goldman Sachs said in a research report on Sunday that the tariffs could depress General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co’s adjusted operating incomes by $1 billion each.

Groups representing auto dealers weighed in to support the manufacturers. In a flattening auto market, headlines about trade wars and tariffs could cause Americans to put off buying new vehicles, said Cody Lusk, president and chief executive of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

“Everybody is reaching out to their allies on Capitol Hill just to make sure they are aware of what’s at stake,” Lusk said.

Farm groups representing producers of wheat, corn and soybeans, the top U.S. crop exports valued at nearly $37 billion last year, joined criticism of the proposed tariffs on Monday. Farm groups had been among Trump’s core support group during the 2016 election.

This may all fall on deaf ears. Trump often seems intent on being a tough decision maker and seems obsessed by ‘winning’, and has said it would be easy to win a trade war with the rest of the world.

But he is losing support.

10 Comments

  1. artcroft

     /  March 7, 2018

    Its tough times for the Republicans. If the Dems win big in 2018 and retake congress we’ll see a democratic controlled house matched to a president who advocates radical gun control, trade tariffs, a wall with Mexico and a gutted and directionless heath care system.
    Rep’s to opt for President Pence?

    • NOEL

       /  March 7, 2018

      If the Dems are going to win they had better get on with rebranding after Hillary and raising their profile.

  2. artcroft

     /  March 7, 2018

    Of course on the campaign trail Trump offer a health care system that sounded a lot like the single payer system we use. Could Nancy get Trump back on this train later in 2018? She just has to say “we’ll call it Trump Master Care” and Trumpy will sign up immediately.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 7, 2018

      Trump – Master Baiter ?

      • Zedd

         /  March 7, 2018

        tautoko.. I accept he is a little green politically, but all he has done since gaining the W-H is feather his & his whanaus nest.. thats all he ever does. Oligarchs one & all

        I just find it hard to ponder why the extreme right just dont see it.. hes blatantly not running the country (or world) for ‘We the people’ OR even ‘We the Wealthy’ its all “I” & “I” & Melaria & co. 😦

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 7, 2018

          Poor Melania !

          She’s only a bird in a gilded cage/ A beautiful sight to see/You’d think she was happy and free from care/She’s not, though she seems to be/Tis sad when you think of her wasted life/For youth cannot mate with age/Her beauty was sold for an old man’s gold/She’s a bird in a gilded cage.’

  3. Trevors_elbow

     /  March 7, 2018

    This is aimed at China. China has been predatory in steel exporting…. something will give before tarriffs are levied…. ever heard of a bluff?

    • artcroft

       /  March 7, 2018

      Canada, Australia and the EU all seem to think they’ll be hit with tariffs as well. Anyhow that ain’t my point. My point is Trump is not a traditional Republican (he holds so very left views) and if the Dems do retake the House this will give the Dems a sympathetic ear in the WH. (At least on some very contentious issues).

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  March 7, 2018

      For the sake of your beloved GOP you’d better be right T_e

      The EU has prepared retaliatory measures that have been designed to hit trump where it hurts. They’re targeting the purple states such as Wisconsin (with a tariff on Harley-Davidsons), Florida (orange juice), and Mitch McConnell’s home state, Kentucky (bourbon).

      A smart riposte.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 7, 2018

        $200 doesn’t sound much, but that’s not the point.

        I read that previous tariffs had disastrous effects.