Trump planning global trade war?

According to Axios, Trump appears heading toward imposing tariffs of around 20% on steel and other imports.

Although the Constitution grants Congress tariff-imposition authority, congressional legislation delegates the power to presidents under the following circumstances:

  • under the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act against any nation as long as America is at war somewhere;
  • under the 1977 Emergency Economic Powers Act—during a real or invented national emergency; no legitimate one existed in America since WW II ended;
  • under the 1974 Trade Act, permitting across-the-board tariffs—based on an allegedly needing to confront an “adverse impact on national security from imports; and
  • under the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, targeting certain industries.

If Trump faces resistance from cabinet officials, congressional members, US companies or other countries, judicial appeals could take years to play out.

Targeted nations almost certainly will retaliate, sparking a trade war, assuring losers, not winners.

According to Axios, together with 20 of his top officials, Trump, Pence, and likeminded advisors “made it clear they’re hell-bent on imposing tariffs” on various imports—including “steel . . . aluminum . . . semiconductors, paper, and appliances like washing machines.”

Despite overwhelming opposition from administration members, Trump may impose tariffs anyway. So far, he hasn’t acted.

China is the number one target, then Mexico. Almost all cabinet members stressed it’s a bad idea. “But everyone left the room believing the country is headed toward a major trade confrontation,” said Axios.

Trade war with China will affect other US allies, including Canada, Mexico, and major EU ones.

“Trump was warned . . . that an affected industry like automakers is likely to seek a court injunction within hours of any tariffs on steel,” according to Axios.

Protectionist policies exacerbated the Great Depression’s severity. They didn’t cause the economic crisis. They hampered recovery when production fell.

Beggar-thy-neighbor trade policies are counterproductive. Trump would be foolhardy to play this game. It’ll hurt economically, not help.

Separately, Axios said “the White House recognizes it faces long odds to rescue” Trumpcare. Enough opposition senators haven’t been persuaded to come aboard.

Suggesting a fallback option, Trump tweeted: “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”

Congress isn’t likely to go along. If it does, new healthcare legislation will require 60 Senate votes to pass (impossible with unanimous Democrat opposition), not 51, under budget reconciliation, for a repeal-and-replace bill.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Comments are closed.