Paul Ryan and Other Republicans Try to Talk Trump Out of Tariffs

Deeply concerned, except this time for real. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Paul Ryan has been fine with President Trump’s steamrolling of political norms, naked corruption, and hatred of the basic rule of law. But apparently the House Speaker hits his limit when the president starts threatening the stock market.

President Trump’s plan for harsh new steel and aluminum tariffs, expected to be finalized later this week, drew fire from Ryan on Monday.

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong issued a statement:

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan. The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”

The Washington Post reported that members of the House Ways and Means Committee were also circulating a letter expressing their opposition to the tariffs.

Several GOP lawmakers had expressed their contempt for the policy when Trump announced it last week.

And Congress is even considering — gasp — attempting to rein in the president, the Post reports. While Trump does have the authority to issue tariffs, Business Insider’s Josh Barro writes that Congress could simply pass a new law stripping him of that power, then try to override his veto. (It seems doubtful the current set of lawmakers would have the stomach for this move.)

On Monday morning, Trump tweeted that Canada and Mexico would only be exempt from the tariffs, which consist of a 25 percent tax on steel imports and a 10 percent tax on aluminum imports, if they take Trump-friendly steps on NAFTA and drug trafficking.

The tariffs, like Trump’s threats to blow up NAFTA, are poised to hurt voters in red-state Trump strongholds, as well as the superrich GOP donor class and … everyone else.

But one of the president’s few core political convictions is the notion that the United States is getting taken advantage of on trade. Trump has been railing about this dynamic for decades, and on Monday he showed no sign of backing down from his hard-line stance. As he met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said: “Our country on trade has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it’s friend or enemy.”

He also said the tariffs were “100 percent” happening.

Ryan, Other Republicans Try to Talk Trump Out of Tariffs