Free Minds & Free Markets

Yelling ‘National Security’ Doesn’t Justify Terrible Government Policies: New at Reason

Nobody is fooled by the lousy reasons behind jacking up foreign tariffs.

Rolls of steelBen Birchall/ZUMA Press/NewscomWere he alive today, William Pitt the Younger might say about national security what he once said about necessity: It is "the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."

It is also the go-to argument for President Trump.

The president has used national security as an excuse to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. This has fooled exactly nobody. Not even Jim Mattis—who after all works for Trump and who, given his position as secretary of defense, should be especially sensitive to potential security threats—would buy it. Noting that the military consumes only 3 percent of U.S. steel and aluminum production, he disputed the Commerce Department's view that national defense needs justified the tariffs. The Pentagon, he said, just didn't need the help. A. Barton Hinkle explains further.

Photo Credit: Ben Birchall/ZUMA Press/Newscom


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