President Trump has slapped tariffs on Canadian aluminum, citing its alleged dangers to national security. It’s a decision with a lot of downsides.
Canada has already promised retaliation.
The tariffs will harm American companies that use aluminum (including Whirlpool, which we have separate tariffs to help!).
It’s not a great time for higher taxes.
The tariffs undermine the administration’s supposedly great triumph in renegotiating NAFTA. Much of the benefit of that deal, according to the economic projections the administration cited, came from reducing uncertainty. Trump had been the source of that uncertainty, and the newly relabled USMCA has obviously not ended it.
The national-security pretext is, of course, absurd.
The tariffs make it even less likely that we would be able to lead an international response to Chinese trade abuses (not that the administration seems especially interested in doing so).
These tariffs will, of course, have benefits too. Previous steel and aluminum tariffs have been estimated to cost about $900,000 per job saved.