Perspectives on the Hill

Over the past week, President Trump’s proposed tariff  plan has begun to take shape. He signed two proclamations that will take effect on March 23. As previously reported,  these proclamations will include the 25 percent tariff on  steel and the additional 10 percent tariff on aluminum.  In the past, tariffs and protectionism have only resulted in a  further fettered America in the long run.

In 1929, President Herbert Hoover implemented the  Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which  contributed to the Great Depression. President Richard  Nixon’s 10 percent surcharge  on all dutiable imports precipitated into stagflation seen  in the 1970s. Even President Ronald Reagan admitted that his provisions against  Japanese steel was regrettable. More recently, President  George W. Bush’s steel tariffs  were unsuccessful in reviving the steel industry. Otherwise, this current conversation  wouldn’t be relevant.

New developments seem to indicate a quasi-capitulation emanating from the current administration. Canada and Mexico are exempt from the  tariffs. Many analysts speculate that these exceptions may  correlate with the current renegotiations of NAFTA. Furthermore, these proclamations  are supposed to be flexible in  order to address national security issues while simultaneously allowing some countries  to negotiate for exemptions, similar to the Mexico and  Canada caveat. These negotiations will be discussed on  a “case-by case,” basis which  are contingent on separate bilateral agreements. However,  many countries have threatened retaliatory tariffs of their  own. The EU has warned that  a “tit-for-tat” tariff will take effect on American products.  A trade war seems to be on  the horizon. During his campaign, Trump personified the  trade deficit as a despot who had unjustly left Americans jobless. He has resonated with the working class and continues to promulgate their plight. In an article from The  Hill, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party  in Ohio, David Betras, avers, “Everyone makes him [Trump]  out to be this idiot. He’s playing to the voters of Wisconsin,  Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Iowa.”



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