Tariff Fight: Who Will Blink First?

Power Struggle
Who will blink first? Who will break?

President Donald Trump’s decision to take strict action against China’s unfair trade policy has landed him in a difficult place. Indeed, ‘politics makes strange bedfellows. ‘ The decision to impose new tariffs on aluminum and steel import is affecting his relationship with congressional Republicans. Many members seem to be in favor of taking legislative steps to prevent further action by the President.

Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), stated, “I think there’s a good chance that we will nullify them, at least if I have my way. … I generally support the president on just about everything but I think he’s been misled. I’m disappointed because we just passed a tax bill and this kind of flies in the face of that.”

GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), who is a regular critic of President Trump, plans to introduce legislation to nullify the tariffs. According to his statement, Congress “cannot be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster.”

“The president’s got some ideas … and he feels like he’s made campaign promises and I think he wants to be able to deliver on those promises,” said GOP Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). He said that the lawmakers should remain engaged despite the administration’s threats of walking away from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We need one another, and we’ve accomplished a lot together,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) “We’ve got to be part of a team with the president, [rather] than at odds with him.”

Still willing to work with the President, he added, “I’ve got a whole lot more in common with the President than any difference I might have.”

Trade director Peter Navarro, whose influence is rising after Gary Cohn’s exit, said, “You see in the news this wall to wall coverage about tariffs … I think a sense of proportion is called for.”

“I think that we’re going to have to continue to work with the president and try to make advances where we can to try to convince him that … trade deficits aren’t the end all be all of determining if trading agreements are good,” he added. “If you explain things, he listens. He gets a hundred things a minute he has to solve and resolve so it’s not easy. But I have to say he’s smart.”

During an energy conference held in Texas, Cornyn said, “We just need to stick close to the people that are talking to the President. I’m sorry to see Mr. Cohn leave and the ascent of Mr. Navarro … who has a lot of wrong ideas when it comes to trade. The President needs good advice.”

On the other hand, GOP leaders said that they want to work with Trump to help ensure the tariffs are more narrowly targeted.

“We will continue to urge the administration to narrow this policy so that it is focused only on those countries and practices that violate trade law.”