Paul Ryan In Open Warfare With Trump On Tariffs

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Speaker Paul Ryan’s office is openly lobbying President Donald Trump to walk back his Thursday announcement of steel and aluminum tariffs.

“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,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a Monday morning statement.

Trump announced he would impose a 20% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum Thursday despite desperate attempts by many of his advisors to stop him. Ryan immediately reacted to the announcement, saying, “The speaker is hoping the president will consider the unintended consequences of this idea and look at other approaches before moving forward.”

The president has brushed off accusations like those from Ryan that he is starting a trade war saying Friday they are sometimes a “good thing.”

Trump’s announcement drew immediate reactions across the globe with the European Union vowing a retaliatory tariff on American products like Harley Davidson motorcycles, bourbon whisky and blue jeans. China similarly said that it urges the “United States to show restraint in using protective trade measures, respect multilateral trade rules, and make a positive contribution to international trade order.”

Trump advisor Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have aggressively defended the tariffs in principle since the Thursday announcement. “The downstream effects of steel and aluminum tariffs are insignificant and the mission here is to preserve our steel and aluminum industries for national security and economic security,” Navarro said Sunday.

Ross similarly appeared on CNBC Friday to push back against criticism of the tariffs from the auto and beverage industry. “It’s a trivial effect people talk about cars it’s about one ton of steel in a car, and the price of a ton of steel is $700 or so. So 25% on that would be one-half of 1% price increase on a typical $35,000 car. So it’s no big deal.”

He continued, “What I would like to do, though, is to emphasize again the limited impact this is a can of Campbell’s soup this, in the can of Campbell’s soup there’s about 2.6 cents — 2.6 pennies — worth of steel. So if that goes up by 25%, that’s about 6/10 of one cent on the price of a can of Campbell’s soup.”