The Corner

Politics & Policy

If This Is ‘Winning’ — Then No More Winning Please

(Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

President Trump’s sudden, live-TV announcement on Thursday that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports was done in the name of making the steel and aluminum industries and America great again. Tariffs will bring jobs back, lower the trade deficit, and encourage foreign companies to set up shop in the U.S., in addition to asserting how tough the U.S. is — or so we are told.

And indeed, some foreign companies are already calling it quits. But not in the way the president told us they would — i.e., not by ending their practices of selling us the cheap steel that we need, but by suspending their investments in the U.S. Here is one example:

After announcing in January a $250 million plant expansion in Springfield, Sweden’s Electrolux reported Friday that its plans are now on hold.

Reuters first reported that the company, Europe’s largest home appliance manufacturer, was delaying its Tennessee investment after President Donald Trump announced Thursday new tariffs on imported aluminum and steel.

Electrolux’s investment plans included modernizing and adding 400,000 square feet to the Springfield plant, construction on which was slated to begin later this year.

So much winning! As I explain in the New York Times this morning, we should expect more winning in the form of thousands of jobs lost as a result of the new Trump import taxes.

Oh, and here is another example of all that winning happening already thanks to the tariffs on imported solar materials earlier this month.

American solar company SunPower will lay off about 3 percent of its workforce in March, a decision that comes after President Trump began imposing new tariffs on imported solar materials earlier this year.

SunPower has already started the process of laying off between 150 and 250 workers, largely from its research and development and marketing positions, CEO Tom Werner told The Hill. The cuts will amount to about a 10 decrease in operational expenses.

The cuts made by the publicly traded company, which is based in San Jose, Calif., are largely an effort to stop the bleeding from the new costs associated with the 30 percent tariffs, Werner said.

If this is winning, I would rather we didn’t win as much, thank you very much.

For more on  every aspect of tariffs and protectionism, read Cafe Hayek’s Don Boudreaux.

And here is an excellent article by Colin Grabow explaining why the national-security argument made by the Trump administration is ridiculous.

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.