Republicans try to temper Trump's trade war talk

Republicans are concerned that Trump's new trade policies will hurt the economy — and Canadian relations

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 5, 2018 1:49PM (EST)

Paul Ryan (AP/Susan Walsh)
Paul Ryan (AP/Susan Walsh)

President Donald Trump's new protectionist trade policies are arousing concern among members of the one group that he used to be able to count on for support — his own Republican Party.

"Any tariffs should be narrow, targeted, and focused on addressing unfairly traded products, without disrupting the flow of fairly traded products for American businesses and consumers," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert said in a letter to Trump, according to NBC News.

House Speaker Paul Ryan echoed those concerns in his own public statement on Monday.

"We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan," Ryan said. "The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains."

During a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump dismissed Ryan's concerns and insisted that he would press ahead with his protectionist trade agenda.

"No we're not backing down. Mexico is — We've had a very bad deal with Mexico, very bad deal with Canada. It's called NAFTA," Trump told a reporter who asked about the possibility of a trade war. "Our factories have left our country. Our jobs have left our country. For many years, NAFTA has been a disaster. We are renegotiating NAFTA, as I said I would. And if we don't make a deal I'll terminate NAFTA."

He also said that "tariffs on steel" would be one of the points he'd consider negotiating on NAFTA. This was consistent with a report earlier today that Trump had told Mexico and Canada that they could be spared his planned 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports if they become more conciliatory regarding NAFTA, according to Reuters.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Canada Dave Reichert Donald Trump Kevin Brady Mexico Nafta Paul Ryan Trade Trade War