Economy & Business

‘We Are Extremely Worried’ — Ryan Comes Out Strong against Trump’s Trade War

House Speaker Paul Ryan (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Speaker Paul Ryan’s office sent a mass email to reporters Monday, highlighting the stock-market uncertainty that followed President Donald Trump’s “trade war” rhetoric and recent tariff announcement.

Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, followed up the email by issuing a statement strongly condemning Trump’s protectionist instincts.

“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,” Strong said in the statement.

Trump, who broke with decades of Republican orthodoxy by advocating steel tariffs and other antagonistic trade practices on the campaign trail, resumed his calls for tariffs last week and announced Thursday his intention to impose 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum respectively.

Trump signaled flexibility in a series of Monday morning tweets, casting the newly announced tariffs as a tool to be leveraged in renegotiating NAFTA.

Ryan is joined in his opposition by traditional conservatives such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), who has argued that tariffs would do little to restrain China and much to disrupt long-held alliances.

“China wins when we fight with Europe,” Graham said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “China wins when the American consumer has higher prices because of tariffs that don’t affect Chinese behavior.”

Update 1:15 p.m.Trump told reporters “we’re not backing down” when asked about the proposed tariffs during a pool spray with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday afternoon.

“We’ve had a very bad deal with Mexico, a very bad deal with Canada. . . . We are renegotiating NAFTA as I said I would, and if we don’t make a deal, I’ll terminate NAFTA,” Trump said. But if I do make a deal which is fair to the workers and to the American people, that would be, I would imagine, one of the points that we’ll negotiate, will be tariffs on steel for Canada and for Mexico. We’ll see what happens, but right now 100 percent, but it could be a part of NAFTA.”

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