- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2018

The White House said Friday that President Trump is still “pretty committed” to imposing tariffs next week on steel and aluminum imports, despite the strong negative reaction in the stock market Thursday and fears of a retaliatory trade war.

“Never say never, but I think he’s pretty committed to moving this forward,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the White House. “This is something he’s wanted to do for awhile.”

She said the president wasn’t fazed by the drop of more than 500 points on the Dow Jones industrial average Thursday after he made the announcement.

“The president’s still focused on long-term economic fundamentals,” Mrs. Sanders said. “He is incredibly focused on the American worker. It’s something that we have to have and something we need to have.”

Asked about Mr. Trump’s intention to set the tariffs at 25 percent for steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum, she said, “I wouldn’t expect those to change, but some of the other details need to be finalized.”

Mr. Trump said Friday that trade wars can sometimes have positive results, after the newly announced tariffs alarmed economists even within the administration.

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Both Canada and the European Union said they would counter the U.S. with their own new tariffs. Mexico, China and Brazil also said they were deciding what to do next. The president has already received much criticism, even from those inside his administration, for sparking the possible trade war.

“Trade wars are never won. Trade wars are lost by both sides,” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, said Friday. “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.”

Mr. Trump said he was acting on behalf of the American worker saying that steel workers are “in bad shape.”

“We must protect our country and our workers. Our steel industry is in bad shape. IF YOU DON’T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

He has previously emphasized the idea of “reciprocal” trade during his State of the Union address in January. He said that the current law on trade motivates companies to move overseas rather than staying in the U.S., which harms both workers and the country’s wealth overall.

“When a country Taxes our products coming in at, say, 50%, and we Tax the same product coming into our country at ZERO, not fair or smart. We will soon be starting RECIPROCAL TAXES so that we will charge the same thing as they charge us. $800 Billion Trade Deficit-have no choice!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn has opposed the tariffs strenuously, and Mr. Trump’s announcement prompted speculation that Mr. Cohn might resign. Asked if Mr. Cohn was staying in his post, Mrs. Sanders replied, “Gary was here yesterday afternoon, I talked to him in my office several times, so I don’t have any reason to think otherwise.”

Director of White House National Trade Council Peter Navarro said automobile companies are exaggerating the effect on automobile prices.

“Of course they don’t like this. But what do they do? They spin the fake news. They put all this hyperbole out about massive price effects,” Mr. Navarro said on Fox News.

“There should be no surprise today that the president wants to impose modest tariffs on steel and aluminum to protect these industries,” he said.

When asked about whether Mr. Cohn would resign over his reported disagreement with the decision, Mr. Navarro said Mr. Cohn could speak for himself, but added he was in “good spirits” Thursday.

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