Tuesday, June 5, 2018

McCarthy Flips On Free Trade

It has long been said that it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Apparently the same applies to prospective Speakers of the House.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a presumptive favorite to succeed Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House, defended President Trump’s decision to implement tariffs on US allies such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union.  McCarthy’s statements represent an evolution on the trade issue.

“I believe there is a better way of solving a problem than getting into a trade war,” McCarthy told reporters last December.

On Sunday, the congressman denied that President Trump’s unilateral application of national security tariffs on American allies represented a trade war, even as US trading partners unveiled retaliatory tariffs on American products from steel to crops to motorcycles.  

“We are in the middle of a trade discussion. Nobody wants to be in a trade war. Nobody wins a trade war,” McCarthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But we are standing up for the process of where we're moving forward that we have fair trade.”

“A word that I would not use to describe it is ‘a trade discussion,’” responded Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

McCarthy did not define what would constitute a trade war in his view.

Rep. McCarthy’s flip-flop on free trade was not sudden. In March, he told Fox Business that tariffs could be a good thing. Shortly after President Trump made his initial announcement of aluminum and steel tariffs, McCarthy said, “Standing up and putting a different perspective on this will turn out to be a very positive aspect.”

Farmers from McCarthy’s home state are less enthusiastic about Trump Trade than he seems to be. New Chinese tariffs on almonds, pistachios and wine hit the California counties that supported President Trump. Even though Trump cannot count on California’s electoral votes, if his supporters become disillusioned with his trade policies, it would be bad news for California’s already-shrinking Republican congressional delegation.

“Is the administration going to get us a better deal? How long will it take to get that better deal?” asked almond farmer David Phippen. “We have sustainability, but it’s limited.”

At the moment, the outlook for California farmers and the American export industry appears as if it will get worse before it gets better. Whether the current situation is a trade war or a trade discussion, the effect on American exports is the same. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

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