- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2019

Kevin Hassett, the chairman of President Trump’s economic advisers, said Monday the Trump administration’s threats to raise Mexican tariffs up to 25 percent if they do not curtail illegal immigration would “cost” Americans.

When asked whether the U.S. economy would be hurt by the tariffs, Mr. Hassett said it would hurt both “producers and consumers.”

“The hope is that the Mexicans step up and get this thing fixed and we’ll never come to that situation, but in terms of economic modeling this is much more harmful for the Mexican economy than the U.S. economy and I think that’s one reason why they’ve shown up with all the seriousness that we see,” Mr. Hassett said on CNN’s “Newsroom” show.

But he added that “If we got to 25% tariffs there would be, you know, cost to that for sure.”

Mr. Trump surprised both American and Mexican leaders with his announcement of the tariffs last week, saying he’ll raise them until Mexico meets unspecified goals for curtailing the flow of people traversing its territory en route to the U.S.

Mr. Hassett said Mr. Trump is “serious” about his threats to raise tariffs, adding illegal immigration would be worse for the economy than the potential tariffs.

“What would be bad for the U.S. economy would be to get the border situation under control and it’s clear that Washington is so broken that Congress isn’t going to help the President do that and he’s not going to just wait until the next election to fix an urgent problem,” he said on CNN’s “Newsroom” show.

“We have a lot of identifiable steps that the Mexicans can take to help us do that, then there will be a lot of economic benefits from that,” Mr. Hassett said, adding and the Mexican government would not be in these discussions if “the president didn’t show how serious he was about this issue.”

Mr. Hassett, who has announced he will be leaving his position in Mr. Trump’s administration, said Mr. Trump “is going over a few names right now” on his placement “and will make the call when he gets back.”

“He’s got good ideas but he wants to stew over it and meet with some folks before he makes the final call,” he said.

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

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