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Trump's trade war backfires as red states defy him

By       Message Eric Boehlert       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Twelve of the 15 states that will likely take the biggest tariff hits are states that sent Trump to the White House.

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More than 100 Republican members of the House have signed off on a letter condemning Trump's looming tariffs. That's a rare occurrence for a GOP whose obsequiousness to Trump has become a hallmark.

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Rushing in to try to stop Trump as he blindly readies his plan to impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, angry Republican politicians, especially red state representatives, are getting an up-close look at what it's like dealing with an erratic, illogical president.

In Wisconsin, which went for Trump by the narrowest of margins, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has warned that tariffs could hurt the state's canning and beer industries. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has also condemned the looming trade war. And Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) lamented how the White House doesn't understand today's global economy.

Red state leaders are freaking out, and not only because most of them oppose Trump's protectionist agenda: Many realize the real damage could come when U.S. trading partners strike back -- and the states that are going to pay the highest price are the GOP states that voted for Trump.

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"We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon and on blue jeans -- Levis," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced last week. (Since then, the EU has expanded its possible tariff hit list to include a huge array of American products.)

Harley-Davidson is based in Wisconsin and of course, red states such as Kentucky and Tennessee are seen as the home of American spirits.

In fact, 12 of the 15 states that will likely take the biggest tariff hits are red states, according to new analysis from the Brookings Institute.

"Many businesses in states that carried [Trump] in the election, including manufacturers in the Rust Belt region, rely heavily on steel and aluminum imports," CNN reports. "States with these kinds of imbalances could experience greater secondhand effects than they do in benefits."

Louisiana, for example, is a huge importing state and relies on steel and aluminum imports for its gas industries. And in Ohio, 410,300 workers are directly employed in industries that use steel and aluminum, according to Crain's Cleveland.

The list goes on and on:

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Of course, when Trump follows through with the tariff threat, he could imperil the future of the U.S. auto industry, which President Obama pulled back from the brink of collapse.

According to Section 232 of a U.S. trade law, the president can impose tariffs on imported materials for national security purposes. But Trump has made virtually no effort to show that his tariffs on steel and aluminum are directly related to national security concerns.

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Eric Boehlert is the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006). He worked for five years as a senior writer for Salon.com, where he wrote extensively about media and politics. Prior to that, he worked as a (more...)

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