There are not many issues capable of blurring partisan lines in Donald Trump’s Washington as much as the issue of trade.
President Trump recently announced that he plans to impose heavy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. This is drawn criticisms from both Republicans and business groups who warn that such a move can result in negative economic consequences for the country.
Many times the politics of trade are affected more by geography than ideology as politicians tend to reflect the values and interests of their hometowns or state industries. But in this rare case, the trade issue seems to be opening a rift between the president and members of his own party.
Ironically, the support for the president’s plan is coming almost exclusively from the Democrats.
Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat for the state of Ohio, remarked “good, finally,” when hearing of the president’s plans. Another Democrat, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who in the past has called for the impeachment of President Trump was also vocal in his agreement with the president’s ideas regarding the tariffs.
Casey in a tweet expressed his wishes that the administration carries through with the plan and level the playing field for American workers.
Many in the know have suspected that this momentary alliance would happen eventually. While campaigning for office, Trump clearly announced his trade philosophies and at times sounded much like Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
Trump explains that globalization has totally decimated the American middle class. And while speaking to supporters in Monessen, Pennsylvania, Trump promised to make a change to this trend.
Trump’s demonization of the trade agreements made with other countries, especially China, resonated with the working class of the country who have suffered from stagnated wages for many years.
Opponents of the president’s tariff proposals argue that industries that rely on these metals for survival will greatly suffer. The cost of many appliances, cars, and other items will rise and there will be retaliation from trade partners. Many Republicans believe that the end result of the policy would be the loss of support from the blue-collar, rural Americans that have been the greatest source of support for the president.
Tim Phillips, president of Americans For Prosperity, points out that Trump barely escaped with a victory in the states of Wisconsin and Iowa which are rural states that would suffer immensely if other countries decide to retaliate by placing retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products.