FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 12, 2018
U.S. move against foreign metal competition shows Republican disagree on free trade vs. import tariffs
Look for a local comment about this topic in an article, editorial, column or letter. Summarize the viewpoint.
Now find coverage related to jobs or the U.S. economy overall. Is the news positive or gloomy?
Try to spot a report about a factory or product made in your state. Are you familiar with it? Why is it in the paper?
In a bold effort to support American steel and aluminum factories, President Trump acted against overseas suppliers of those metals used in vehicles, appliances, construction, packaging and other industries. He imposes stiff tariffs – a step opposed by some Republicans in Congress and by U.S. allies. The tariffs – 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum – take effect March 23. For now, they won't affect Canada and Mexico, and Trump says he may also exempt other friendly trade partners like Australia. "The actions we are taking today are not a matter of choice. They are a matter of necessity for our security," Trump said at a White House ceremony. His action keeps a 2016 campaign pledge to protect and expand jobs in Rust Belt plants.
Government leaders in Europe and elsewhere, along with critics here, warn of a trade war that could escalate to other industries and take aim at American exports. Business groups say consumers could pay more for cars, appliances and other goods. Republicans in the Senate and House Congress advocate free trade and oppose this policy by their party's president. A day before he acted, more than 100 federal lawmakers sent a letter asking the president not to do what he did anyhow. "Trade wars are not won, they are only lost," says Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. "Congress cannot be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster. I will immediately draft and introduce legislation to nullify these tariffs, and I urge my colleagues to pass it before this exercise in protectionism inflicts any more damage on the economy."
America is the largest steel importer. The order could affect China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Turkey and Brazil the most. Tariff supporters here say this policy of "economic nationalism" strengthens the country. "Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs . . . are a first attempt at finding an alternative to a free-trade system that has built up the People's Republic of China while hollowing out the factory towns that once made America great," writes Daniel McCarthy, editor of an academic journal called Modern Age: A Conservative Review. At last Thursday's presidential order-signing, Kentucky aluminum worker Dustin Stevens said: "This gives us the ability to come back to 100-percent capacity." Indeed, his employer – Century Aluminum -- said it will hire up to 300 workers to meet an expected rise in orders.
President says: "Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!" – March 3 tweet
Senate leader says: "There is a lot of concern among Republican senators that this could sort of metastasize [grow] into a larger trade war. . . . There is a high level of concern about interfering with what appears to be an economy that is taking off." – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Trump backer says "Steel towns throughout the Northeast and Midwest have been losing a trade war for decades because they cannot count on their leaders in Washington to fight for them." -- Daniel McCarthy, editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review
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