Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 7, 2018
Republicans confront Trump over steel tariffs, fearing trade war
In a remarkably public confrontation, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican allies of President Donald Trump pleaded with him Monday to back away from his threatened international tariffs, which they fear could spark a dangerous trade war.
Trump retorted: “We’re not backing down.”
The president said U.S. neighbours Canada and Mexico would not be spared from his plans for special import taxes on steel and aluminum, but he held out the possibility of later exempting the longstanding friends if they agree to better terms for the U.S. in talks aimed at revising the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“We’ve had a very bad deal with Mexico; we’ve had a very bad deal with Canada. It’s called NAFTA,” he declared.
Trump spoke shortly after a spokesperson for Ryan, a Trump ally, said the Republican leader was “extremely worried” that the proposed tariffs would set off a trade war and urged the White House “to not advance with this plan.”
Likewise, Republican leaders of the House ways and means committee circulated a letter opposing Trump’s plan, and Republican congressional leaders suggested they may attempt to prevent the tariffs if the president moves forward.
Trump’s pledge to implement tariffs of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminum imports has roiled financial markets, angered foreign allies and created unusual alliances for a president who blasted unfavourable trade deals during his 2016 campaign.
Union leaders and Democratic lawmakers from Rust Belt states have praised the planned tariffs, joining with advocates within the administration including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro. (Source: CBC News)