WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan publicly broke with President Donald Trump on Monday, the latest Republican to call on the president to reverse his planned imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that many fear could set off a trade war.
“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” said AshLee Strong, Ryan’s spokesperson. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”
Trump stunned Congress last week when, without apparent consultation with members of his staff, Republican leaders or trading partners, he announced that he would impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent penalties on aluminum imports.
Trump campaigned on punishing China and other selected nations he said were destroying U.S. producers with cheaper imports. Administration officials said after Trump’s initial announcement that the tariffs would be imposed across the board to both allies like Canada and economic competitors like China.
The president’s abrupt announcement came before any paperwork was finalized laying out the tariffs, which he insisted were a national security necessity. The delay in officially mandating new rules has led to a days-long effort to press him to change his mind — particularly among Republicans who have championed free trade.
“Trade wars are never won. Trade wars are lost by both sides,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said last week. “Kooky 18th century protectionism will jack up prices on American families — and will prompt retaliation from other countries. Make no mistake — if the president goes through with this, it will kill American jobs. That’s what every trade war ultimately does. So much losing.”