On US Tariffs, Hold the Hysteria

On US Tariffs, Hold the Hysteria, by John Hinderaker.

President Trump said last week that he intends to use powers granted him by Congress to impose import duties on steel and aluminum. That was all it took for the press to become free traders. Gloom and doom are everywhere, as reporters gleefully tell us how our trading partners are planning to retaliate and how Trump’s tariffs will damage the economy. I don’t recall a similar reaction when it was Democrats who were the leading protectionists. …

This is all about President Trump, of course. If Trump came out for a big increase in the minimum wage, the Washington Post would suddenly realize that it would increase unemployment among minority youths. …

I think it likely that Trump is rattling sabres over tariffs in order to set the stage for improved trade deals or other concessions — in order, for example, to pressure China to start respecting our intellectual property, a huge issue on which the Obama administration was shamefully supine.

All of this will take some time. If it turns out that Trump’s policy is sheer protectionism, I will criticize him for it. But I suspect that, like President Reagan, Trump is using trade policy to set the stage for addressing inappropriate conduct by other nations.