Look, President Trump, it is one thing to put up with your tweets, with your crude language, with your grandiose ignorance, but when your policies go nuts, that’s something else. When you put America last, when you cost your countrymen billions of dollars overnight, when you threaten jobs and prosperity on behalf of an utter stupidity at war with the best you have done, forget it.
That’s what we’re getting with your announced plan to impose new tariffs on importations of steel and aluminum, and I will spell it out for you. That is going to make it more expensive for all kinds of businesses to do business. They may shrink. They may move overseas. The boost to the steel and aluminum industries will come nowhere near compensating. Those industries employ about 140,000 people compared to 6.5 million who work for industries that use these metals to make products with these materials, and now their costs will zoom up.
We’re talking about our automobile manufacturers, President Trump. We are talking about makers of airplanes, ships, tractors and trailers and on and on and they will all of a sudden be at a disadvantage with international competitors. Their stock values are already going down and the whole market is in turmoil with your fellow Americans losing billions of dollars because of your proclaimed intentions. Weren’t you once proud of high stock prices and bringing jobs back to America, Mr. President?
An excuse for the travesty of you saying you are going to do this thing is that we could face a steel and aluminum shortage if a war came along disrupting trade routes. But this is a bogus concern, varied analysts say. Our capacity to produce all the needed steel and aluminum under difficult circumstances is nothing shaky, nothing suspect, but something dependable. What’s going on is your enmity toward free trade, as shown in your new tariffs on solar panels and washing machines and various other dangerous adventures, and this is no small deal.
Yes, other countries can break all kinds of trade rules and, when that happens, we need to take whatever reasonable steps are necessary. But free trade is only carried out in the first place because of mutual advantage. It breeds prosperity. As with internal competition, it can hurt some businesses here and there, but it also leads to innovations, lower prices people can afford, industrial energy, far more jobs overall and higher standards of living.
I know, I know. You say you want free trade but also “fair trade,” an old leftist line aimed at getting union-member votes that puts you in league with the likes of the anti-trade socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and good, old Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, who applauds this latest move of yours.
The thing is, President Trump, this move would be unfair to the American people and could actually undo the benefits of your foremost presidential achievement, the tax reform package.
By cutting taxes and making American firms more competitive with international firms, it is already leading to higher wages, bonuses and lower unemployment and is likely to boost economic growth, and you now want to tear away at all of that? You want to alienate partners in both international security and trade? You want to start a trade war? As a matter of fact, it is already occurring, with the New York Times reporting that the European Union, for instance, is threatening to put tariffs on such products as blue jeans, Harley Davidsons and Kentucky bourbon.
There are those of us who have defended you time and again as you have thwarted ruinous leftist policies. As dismayed as we may be at your personal bumbles and stumbles, we have been even more dismayed at your political enemies happily ripping away at democratic institutions to defeat you.
But in this tariff move and a variety of other ways, such as seeming to be unconcerned about dealing with our growing debt, you are engaging in policies that need thwarting.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.