By Nick Stolte || Staff Writer
President Trump has announced significant tariffs on both steel and aluminum in a move meant to fulfill early campaign promises to enforce strict trade regulations to protect American workers. The president intends to officially sign the measure next week, which will enforce a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminium. The White House is still deliberating which countries the tariff will apply to, as some in the administration prefer narrow tariffs that only affect China while others support broad tariffs that will apply to American allies.
The president justified his controversial decision at a press conference on March 1st, explaining, “We have the big aluminum companies in the United States and they’ve been very unfairly treated by bad policy, by bad trade deals by other countries.” He also anticipates manufacturing jobs being created as a consequence of his new policy. “Steel and aluminum will see a lot of good things happen. We’re gonna have new jobs popping up.” The Trump administration has contemplated this move for months, but was unable to come to a decision due to disagreement over the tariffs in the administration. Secretary of Defense Mattis has advocated killing the tariffs, but he has lost that fight to fair trade advocates like Peter Navarro in the Trump White House.
As the details have not yet been finalized, the economic ramifications of the policy are unclear, although the Dow Jones dropped 500 points in the immediate aftermath of the President’s announcement. Trump has already implemented tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, but his recent announcements reveals the President intends to pursue more protectionism. Economists fear these tariffs could lead to serious retaliation, such as when the European Union imposed 2.2 billion dollars worth of retaliatory after George W. Bush implemented a similar steel tariff. The Bush administration eventually abandoned the tariff as the European response was too damaging the United States economy.
The president is also receiving criticism from his own party on the tariffs, just one day after the NRA called the president’s position on gun control “bad policy.” Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas expects retaliatory tariffs to hurt the agriculture industry in his state, and Representative Mark Meadows, the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, said Trump’s decision “ignores reality” and expressed his fear that manufacturing will be hurt, not helped by the president’s decision. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who also had harsh words for the president on gun control, made the most aggressive statement, “Let’s be clear: The President is proposing a massive tax increase on American families. Protectionism is weak, not strong. You’d expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one.” Increased tensions between the President and congressional Republicans could derail any future legislative plans of the Trump administration. It remains to be seen if the conflict within the Republican Party will alter the president’s plan. Democrats are sure to be be pleased by the Republican infighting, though their focus is expected to stay on gun control where they remain optimistic about the opportunity for serious legislation on the issue.
Junior Nick Stolte is a staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.