When President Trump announced he would impose tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum, naysayers of both parties rushed to the nearest microphone or camera. Pundits and politicians alike pretended to be “shocked” that Trump meant what he said as a candidate, and that he actually means to deliver what he promised during the campaign.
The Swamp is not happy. But cheers rose from the manufacturing belt that runs through the states that put Trump in the White House: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
“This is a good thing for the steel industry and for our country,” said Tim Timken, the fifth-generation leader of TimkenSteel, which has 3,000 employees in Ohio. “We’re standing up to our foreign competition and essentially saying enough is enough,” he added.
Foreign lobbyists warned of a new “trade war,” but U.S. Steel CEO David Burritt pointed out that “We are, and have been, in a trade war for decades. Countries which have economically prospered by creating our current trade imbalance will face repercussions to their own economies if they choose the path of retaliation.”
Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, debunked the notion that the United States could lose a trade war with Europe or Asia. “We are the most lucrative and biggest market in the world. We have the lowest tariffs in the world, we have the lowest non-tariff barriers, we are the free-tradingest nation in the world."
“And what do we get for that?” Navarro asked. “We get every year a half-trillion-dollar trade deficit that transfers our wealth to other countries and basically offshores our jobs and our factories.”
Critics are exaggerating the cost to consumers by adding a tax to foreign-made steel and aluminum. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross found that the aluminum tariff would add just six-tenths of a cent to the cost of a soup can, while the steel tariff would add about $175 to the cost of a $35,000 car.
The rest of the world wants unlimited access to the American consumer without complying with American regulations or paying American taxes. “Under my administration,” Trump boasted in February, “the era of economic surrender is over.”