EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
In Pennsylvania, President Trump preened before an approving crowd as he trumpeted his decision to slap tariffs on aluminum and steel imports. “A lot of steel mills are now opening up because what I did,” Trump crowed, without offering evidence. “Steel is back, and aluminum is back.”
The sudden decision on tariffs was clearly timed politically—as the White House and Republicans make a final push to try to avoid an embarrassing defeat in Tuesday’s special election in a deep-red Pennsylvania congressional district that Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016.
Trump further tweaked outraged free-traders, tweeting that “trade wars are good and easy to win.” He got the brouhaha he wanted. Gary Cohn, who left Goldman Sachs to head Trump’s National Economic Council, resigned in protest. Republicans joined business leaders denouncing the tariffs as “higher taxes” (Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin) that would “cost our country jobs” (Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania), impose “higher prices” (Ohio Governor John Kasich) and “devastate our agricultural communities” (Senator John Cornyn of Texas).
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.