Following President Donald Trump’s decision to implement steep tariffs on Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a statement accusing the president of recklessly starting a trade war with American allies while causing economic pain to U.S. farmers, manufacturers, and consumers. In addition to Sen. Sanders’ condemnation, economist Jeffrey Sachs wrote an op-ed on Friday describing the new steel and aluminum tariffs as the start of a “psychopath’s trade war.”
On Friday, U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum went into effect against Canada, Mexico, and the European Union with a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports. Although the U.S. government negotiated deals with Australia, Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea on steel and with Australia and Argentina on aluminum, the U.S. was unable to reach satisfactory arrangements with Canada, Mexico, or the European Union, according to the White House.
“We need a trade policy that is fair to American workers, not just large multi-national corporations,” Sanders wrote in a statement on Friday. “We need to stop the hemorrhaging of American jobs as large corporations shut down in the United States and move to low-wage countries.
“Donald Trump’s haphazard and reckless plan to impose tariffs on Canada and the European Union is an absolute disaster that will cause unnecessary economic pain to farmers, manufacturers and consumers in Vermont and throughout the country.”
Instead of shying away from the concept of imposing tariffs, Sanders advocated for implementing stiff tariffs against specifically targeted countries responsible for causing damage to the U.S. economy.
“I strongly support imposing stiff penalties on countries like China, Russia, South Korea and Vietnam to prevent them from illegally dumping steel and aluminum into the U.S. and throughout the world,” Sanders continued. “American steel and aluminum workers need our help, and they need it now, but not at the expense of farmers, workers, small businesses and consumers in Vermont and throughout this country. Given Vermont’s proximity to Canada and our strong trade relations with Canada, these policies will be especially harmful to Vermont and other northern border states. It simply makes no sense to start a trade war with Canada, the European Union and others who are engaged in fair trade, are not cheating and where workers are paid a living wage with good benefits.”
In an op-ed for CNN, economist Jeffrey Sachs wrote on Friday, “Trump’s trade actions are blatantly illegal. They are flimsily justified as an act of national security, but this is sheer nonsense. They are also fatuous in terms of US economic and geopolitical interests. Harming our closest allies, raising the prices on key intermediate products, and provoking retaliation cannot possibly deliver higher wages, better jobs, or an improved trade balance. Trump’s latest notion to slap tariffs on German automobiles would be even more damaging geopolitically.
“Trump creates chaos for no reason other than his own flagrant inability to follow rules or respect the interests of others. His is a psychopath’s trade war. The result will be to undermine the long-term role of the dollar; ratchet up the public debt; and undermine the current expansion through a spiral of protectionist measures and rising uncertainties for business.”
“Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday following Trump’s announcement. “Canadians have served alongside Americans in two world wars and in Korea. From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together.”
Sanders concluded, “If Trump were serious about protecting good-paying American jobs he would sign an executive order today to prevent large companies that outsource jobs to low-wage countries from receiving lucrative federal contracts and corporate welfare. Instead of imposing piecemeal tariffs on our trading partners, he should comprehensively and fundamentally re-write all of our failed unfettered trade policies to stop the race to the bottom and lift living standards in the U.S. and throughout the world.”