Published: Mar 18, 2018 - The Roanoke Times
President Trump’s effort to “protect” steel companies sells out almost every industry in America to protect his rich friends. This plan is bad for America, and worse for the 6th District. Up and down I-81, there are plenty of places that demand investment and protection, but the Blue Ridge’s essential industries are the most likely casualties in a “trade war.”
Farmers throughout our district depend on trade agreements. Last year, Mexico bought 17 percent of America’s chicken products. As we add barriers to other markets, our farmers and industries have fewer places to sell their goods.
Our president seems to have forgotten this. He first implemented a tariff on solar panels, slowing our movement toward energy independence. Now, he’s placed a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel. By placing such high tariffs on essential imports, he has started a trade war, one which will disproportionately hurt our region.
Moreover, the president is starting this squabble over steel, already a highly-protected industry enjoying record profits. Anyone arguing that this is needed to prop up the steel industry and protect jobs is wrong, lying or both. The American steel industry made $2.8 billion in profits in 2017 and added 8,000 jobs - all without tariffs. We already have 149 different restrictions on imported steel; let’s not fix what isn’t broken.
Don’t take my word for it - the U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers released a joint statement expressing dismay "that the voices of farmers and many other industries were ignored in favor of an industry that is already among the most protected in the country." Even Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told farmers that they may want to start praying.
This proposed tariff is unnecessary and foolish. This move has prompted other countries to threaten tariffs on items that will hurt Americans most, like bourbon, motorcycles, and agricultural goods. We need trade deals ensuring our industries are strong and our agricultural goods are consumed worldwide. With this reckless action, our president has ignored sound economic advice and put our industries, our communities, and potentially our security at risk.