Sometimes there’s an important 2-1 ruling, and one wonders what the one-third minority was thinking.
So it was with a court’s decision on President Donald Trump’s outrageous tariffs on metal imports, that he imposed by executive order.
The former president used a little-noticed provision called Section 232 to raise import taxes on a product if he deems it a threat to national security. And Trump always did: The law was passed during the Cold War, more than 50 years ago, in case a shooting war broke out with the Soviet Union.
As you might imagine, the myriad tariffs that Trump raised over the course of four years — from steel to wine to farm products — had nothing to do with national security. Rather, the president pursued his policies without regard to the trouble of passing such absurd tariffs through Congress.
National security? “That term is elastic,” The Wall Street Journal opined.
The U.S. Court of International Trade agreed last week, in a 2-1 decision on the metal tariffs, the case before the judges.
But we believe that all the tariffs are at best debatable, but generally unwise.
A tariff is a tax that is levied on imported goods and products like steel, but the cost is paid by the American consumer. We saw the price of all sorts of things rise during Trump’s tariff regime, from dishwashers to automobiles and other metal-built goods.
Retaliation by U.S. trading partners included the democracies of Europe and Asia, not just the Communist government of mainland China.
So if abuse of the Section 232 provisions is illegal, what happens now? As the Journal noted, President Joe Biden appears to be in no hurry to unwind the protectionist policies of his predecessor.
Not much of a surprise to us, as Biden supporters in organized labor have often joined with select domestic manufacturers — like steel mills — to restrict competition. The slogan is, protect American jobs. In fact, the tariffs have done little to make American manufacturing great again.
In Louisiana, we are blessed with the mighty Mississippi River and an array of the nation’s greatest ports, dependent on imports and exports. Tariffs aim to restrict imports; tariff retaliation hurts exports.
The Trump policies were unwise and not in Louisiana’s best interests. Unfortunately, Biden hasn’t moved nearly fast enough on trade, which is good for America and particularly good for Louisiana.
Free trade is also a vital component of any effective long-term strategy against international troublemakers like China and Russia.
That’s real national security.