WASHINGTON (AP) -
Few issues could blur the lines of partisanship in Trump-era Washington.
Trade is one of them.
Trump’s announcement that he will impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and
aluminum has labor unions and liberal Democrats in the unusual position of
applauding Trump’s approach, while Republicans and an array of business
groups are warning of dire economic and political consequences if he goes
often cut along regional, rather than ideological, lines, as politicians
reflect the interests of the hometown industries and workers. But rarely
does a debate open so wide a rift between a president and his party -
leaving him almost exclusively with support from his ideological opposites.
said Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat and progressive as he cheered
Trump’s move. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a Democrat who has called for
Trump to resign, agreed.
“I urge the
administration to follow through and to take aggressive measures to ensure
our workers can compete on a level playing field,” Casey tweeted.
This moment of
unusual alliance was long expected. As a candidate, Trump made his populist
and protectionist positions on trade quite clear, at times hitting the same
themes as one of the Democratic presidential candidates, Vermont Sen. Bernie
“This wave of
globalization has wiped out totally, totally our middle class,” Trump told
voters in the hard-hit steel town of Monessen, Pennsylvania, during one of
his campaign stops. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”
of trade agreements and China’s trade policies found support with white
working-class Americans whose wages had stagnated over the years. Victories
in big steel-producing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana
demonstrated that his tough trade talk had a receptive audience.
In a March 13 House
election in Pennsylvania, Republican Rick Saccone has voiced support for
Trump’s approach, while Democrat Conor Lamb’s campaign didn’t respond to a
request for comment.
“Rick supports free
trade as long as it’s fair. If other countries aren’t playing by the rules
and tariffs are needed to protect steel and aluminum jobs in southwestern
Pennsylvania, Rick would support those measures,” Saccone’s campaign said.
But Trump’s GOP
allies on Capitol Hill had little use for the tariff approach.
Trump’s proposal to place a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent
tariff on aluminum said other industries that rely on the products will
suffer. The cost of new appliances, cars and buildings will rise if the
president follows through, they warned, and other nations could retaliate.
The end result could erode the president’s base of support with rural
America and even the blue-collar workers the president says he trying to
“There is always
retaliation, and typically a lot of these countries single out agriculture
when they do that. So, we’re very concerned,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Gov. Scott Walker,
R-Wis., asked the administration to reconsider its stance. He said American
companies could move their operations abroad. “This scenario would lead to
the exact opposite outcome of the administration’s stated objective, which
is to protect American jobs,” Walker said.
president of the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity, noted that
Trump narrowly won in Iowa and Wisconsin, two heavily rural states that
could suffer if countries put in retaliatory tariffs on American