President Trump’s announcement of steep tariffs on steel and aluminum from some of America’s strongest allies calls to mind some memorable quotes.
Such as: “Our peaceful trading partners are not our enemies; they are our allies. We should beware the demagogues who are ready to declare a trade war against our friends — weakening our economy, our national security, and the entire free world — all while cynically waving the American flag.”
That was from President Ronald Reagan, during a radio address in November 1988 as his presidency neared its end. And while the global economy has undergone vast changes in the three decades since, those words remain relevant.
Last week, Trump announced tariffs targeting Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. It is a curious decision, and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., summed up the feelings of many Republicans when he tweeted: “Europe, Canada & Mexico aren’t China. You don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents. Blanket protectionism is a big part of why we had a Great Depression. ‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 again.’ ”
Tariffs are particularly bad for the state of Washington. They could bolster domestic industries, but they also could lead to retaliatory measures from trading partners, reducing exports and hitting Washingtonians where we live. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Canada ranks second in goods from Washington, receiving more than 10 percent of exports we send to foreign countries; Mexico ranks eighth, and several EU countries are in the top 25.