Donald Trump has united much of the world against him by slapping tariffs on some of America’s most enduring allies: Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The response was swift, writes the New York Times.
The European Union, Canada and Mexico, which will face 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, quickly denounced the action and drew up lists of tit-for-tat measures, many aimed at parts of the United States where President Trump enjoys his strongest political support. (emphasis added)
At the same time, GOP senators, gobsmacked by the news, complained bitterly about it.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) called it “bad news” and predicted imminent retaliation from the key U.S. allies. Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said there is “mounting evidence that these tariffs will harm Americans.” And Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) warned that similar policies 90 years ago sparked the Great Depression.
“This is dumb. Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents,” Sasse said. “‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.'”
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker called the move an “abuse of authority only intended for national security purposes.” (emphasis added)
Even useless House Speaker Paul Ryan managed to express displeasure. “I disagree with this decision,” he said in statement, only to totally ruin the lackluster sentiment by adding, “I intend to keep working with the president on those better options.” Naturally, no Republicans even floated the prospect of passing legislation to rein in Trump.
Trump appears to have been briefed on the near-universal negative outcry en route from Dallas Love Field to a private fundraiser he was attending Thursday evening. As CNBC’s Christina Wilkie noted, that led to this “knee-jerk defensive howl”:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018
That may be just the first of many primal screams we see from Trump on this tariff issue.
Not only are our allies purposely taking aim by punishing GOP strongholds, but the Republican outcry could reach beyond free traders in the House like Ryan. Here was Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash’s response:
Tariffs raise taxes on Americans. Economic protectionism and other forms of central planning harm our economy and erode liberty.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 31, 2018
If Trump manages to tick off most of the GOP Senate along with a healthy swath of both establishment Republicans and Freedom beasts in the House, he will have zero air cover on this self-inflicted wound if it blows up in his face.
That will not be a good place to be if the economy starts sucking wind. Remember, Republicans justified their tax cut on the fever dream that it would grow the economy 3 to 4 percent.
And just imagine how painful it will be for those same GOP lawmakers to come to Trump’s defense if and when Robert Mueller’s findings are released in the midst of their re-election campaigns.