Frank Augstein, AP
In a Sept. 22, 2005 file photo a steel worker measures steel coils of ThyssenKrupp steel company in Duisburg, western Germany. Ordering combative action on foreign trade, President Donald Trump has declared that the U.S. will impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, escalating tensions with China and other trading partners and raising the prospect of higher prices for American consumers and companies.

President Donald Trump’s recent decision to levy hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is a serious blunder, and the unintended consequences will reverberate across America. We stand on the brink of war, not a war of bullets and bombs, but a war of retaliatory tariffs and punitive trade restrictions that will squeeze American workers and harm the most vulnerable among us.

Trump’s 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum will raise prices on all sorts of consumer goods made from steel and aluminum. It will severely impact industries such as cars and aerospace manufacturers. It will increase already skyrocketing costs in the construction industry and will increase the price of the president’s infrastructure plan.

Unfortunately, the increased cost of goods is not the worst thing Americans face in this pending trade war. The threat of steel and aluminum tariffs may also derail NAFTA renegotiations due to the Canadian steel industry’s dependence on the U.S. for steel exports. Do we really want to risk seeing NAFTA fall apart? Close to 14 million American jobs rely on trade with Canada and Mexico. Do we really want to see the jobs of autoworkers in Michigan disappear? The income of over 175,000 families depends on the continued success of auto factories in southeastern Michigan. Do we really want to cripple farmers and ranchers across America’s heartland? Countless rural communities exist because of the nearly 2.2 million farms in the U.S.

In addition to the threats to NAFTA, there are already reports of the European Union threatening to strike back with tariffs on products like Harley-Davidson, Kentucky Bourbon and blue jeans, for a total of about $3.5 billion. Instead of benefiting American workers, Trump’s tariffs will be responsible for putting men and women out of work in factories like like those in York, Pennsylvania, and at denim mills in Texas, Mississippi and California.

Our economy is constantly changing, but we must not allow the fear of change to get in the way of our success. At this time of unprecedented economic prosperity, the implementation of tariffs will set back the American economy and will cause substantial repercussions for the American families that depend on jobs in an interconnected global supply chain.

15 comments on this story

Free trade is not just a platitude given lip service in political speeches and academic papers; it is a principle that is the bedrock of our prosperity as a country. Free enterprise has done more to benefit society and elevate the human condition around the world than any government policy or executive action ever created. It is through the courageous actions of the entrepreneur that jobs are created. It is through the choices of consumers that goods and services are bought and sold.

Government levies do not ensure the success of farmers in Utah or Nebraska. Tariffs do not secure the jobs of factory workers in Pennsylvania or Mississippi. The principle of free trade is the framework of our prosperity, and it is the key to our ongoing success as a country.