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McConnell Admits U.S. May Be in 'Early Stages' of Trade War

But will Congress act to rein in Trump?

JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS/NewscomJOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS/NewscomThe United States may be in the "early stages" of a trade war, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) said Friday.

Speaking to reporters in Kentucky, McConnell bemoaned the fact that there are no winners in a trade war. "As you all know, I've said before, I'm concerned about getting into a trade war and it seems like…we may actually be in the early stages of it," McConnell said, according to The Hill. "Nobody wins a trade war, and so it would be good if it ended soon."

McConnel's remarks follow a week of tit-for-tat tariffs between the U.S. and China. Last Friday, the Trump administration slapped tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods, prompting the Chinese to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. produce, meat, and cars. On Tuesday, the Trump administration upped the ante by announcing additional tariffs of 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese imports.

The Kentucky Republican has repeatedly expressed concern that these tariffs will harm the U.S. economy. Yet, neither McConnell nor a Republican-controlled Congress have done much to rein in Trump's ability to impose tariffs.

On Wednesday, 88 senators voted in favor of a measure limiting the president's power to impose tariffs for national security reasons. However the nonbinding measure, co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R–Tenn.), Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.), and Pat Toomey (R–Pa.), was mostly seen as a symbolic gesture.

Neverthless, the Senate's vote, and now McConnell's comments, could be a sign of a growing Republican willingness to stand up to Trump, as Reason's Eric Boehm noted on Wednesday:

The nonbinding vote is, for now, mostly meaningless. Still, the bipartisan support for limiting the president's ability to abuse the Section 232 tariff authority is the first sign that Republicans in Congress might be willing to stand up to Trump as he continues escalating an unnecessary trade war.

If congressional Republicans really want to rein in Trump on tariffs, however, they'll need meaningful legislation to pass with a two-thirds majority in order to override a presidential veto. Though 88 senators approved the nonbinding measure, it will be much harder to garner that kind of support for binding legislation.

Why is that? According to Axios' Caitlin Owens, many Republicans don't want to "cross" Trump "until their voters feel the pain" from the tariffs. "There's a lot of confidence in the president," says Rep. Tom Cole (R–Okla.). "But in this situation, most Republicans are classic free traders and a lot of them represent areas where this is dangerous."

Still, some GOP lawmakers want to act, regardless of the political repercussions. "We got 88 votes yesterday on the Corker amendment," Sen. Lamar Aleander (R–Tenn.) told Axios on Thursday. "Several of us are thinking of other legislation actions we could take. And we hope the president will change his mind."

Photo Credit: JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Curious to see what Ken will say.

  • Citizen X||

    If he starts to get het up, use this clip to soothe him.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm genuinely curious. He's posts seem all over the place lately, they're hard to follow.

  • SQRLSY One||

    There otter be a law against such lascivious conduct in pubic!

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    They were naked *AND* touching each other. They would be arrested in Ohio.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Good jobs for residents of SQRLSY One's house! I am NOT going to buy or sell from ANYONE! Me & mine, we will tan our own shoeleather, make our own shoes, practice home dentistry, mine our own iron ore, make ALL of our own tools...

    And by not trading with ANYONE, we will be FILTHY RICH!!! I will LAUGH at all of you so-called "free-traders", all the way to our independent wealth!!!!

  • sarcasmic||

    The purpose of the economy is jobs. Not consumption, but jobs. If competition destroys jobs then we must tax that competition to save the jobs. Comparative advantage is for idiots. And don't get me started on Adam Smith. What a fucktard. Money is wealth. The more we export the more money we have, and the wealthier we are. The Spanish Empire has it right. The exported everything and only imported precious metals. And they're still the wealthiest nation on the planet!

    Fucking free trade morons. We need to tariff ourselves into prosperity!

  • sarcasmic||

    "You're Dunphy neener neener!"
    There, saved John from having to respond.

    "You're an anarchist nanny nanny boo boo!"
    Saved lc1789 from having to post his usual thoughtful reply.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm glad he stopped calling everyone a nanarchist. That was really very confusing.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Among lefties

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    He's a good guy, I just think he needs to calm down on the knee-jerk name calling. Try to argue a little more clearly.

  • sarcasmic||

    He is emotionally invested in Trump and the Republican Party. He has no arguments. None. Just straw men (you want 2017 tariffs) and ad hominems (you are an anarchist).

    Tony is more thoughtful than lc1789.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sarcasmic thinks Tony is thoughtful.

    Nanarchists like Sarcasmic just do not like America.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its just self proclaimed sarcasmic and zeb that are the anarchists.

    Its fun to see sarcasmic act like he does not want Libertarianism to fail.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    How does the USA actually get free trade with trading partners that refuse to take Trump up on his offer to end trade restrictions, sarcasmic?

    They all refused Trumps offer. Its funny to you because the USA failing means that you are one step closer to anarchy-land.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Life must have been so much better in 1456!

  • creech||

    Look at how filthy rich Santa Claus is with his self-contained North Pole enterprise. Makes so much of everything that he can afford to give most of it away to kids all over the world!

  • sarcasmic||

    He exports everything and imports nothing! The ultimate trade balance! He's the richest person in the woooorrrrrrllld!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    He also delivers all his products in one evening and does not require payment.

    Sarcasmic's new economic ideology- give foreigners something for nothing.

  • Calidissident||

    If only the Founders had given Congress the power to determine tariff rates, such a shame they didn't think of that.

  • Echospinner||

    Man's highest joy is in victory: to conquer one's enemies; to pursue them; to deprive them of their possessions; to make their beloved weep; to ride on their horses; and to embrace their wives and daughters.
    Ghengis Khan

    This trade war is not about money or economics. It is about power. Our labor is only important because you need peasants to supply the wealth and raw materials to sustain that power.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Of course. That's why they call it a war.
    The only form of war where you blockade yourself and damage your own citizens.
    All because other countries have blockaded themselves and injure their citizens.

    It's not war. It is, however, stupid and destructive.

  • Number 2||

    "Of course. That's why they call it a war.
    The only form of war where you blockade yourself and damage your own citizens."

    I'm not so sure of that Shirley. Seems like the combatants in World War I also did a damn good job of damaging their own citizens in thoroughly stupid and destructive ways.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Wars do that, definitely, but it's not the main point. Damaging the enemy is the point.
    Trade 'wars' invert that. Damage ourselves because the enemies are damaging themselves!

  • sarcasmic||

    If you believe that the purpose of the economy is production, not consumption, and that jobs are a benefit, not a cost, then you will believe that tariffs are a benefit to society because they increase production and create jobs.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Economy's purpose is to trade things and services that people want.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you are going to hurt our producers, we're going to hurt our consumers! Take that!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Anarchy-land is the best"
    - Sarcasmic.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Shame that this trade war has been going on for decades.

  • Horny Lizard||

    Interestingly I saw that our trade deficit with China just reached an all time high and this under Trump.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Except when it was at an all time high, pre-Trump.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "McConnell Admits U.S. May Be in 'Early Stages' of Trade War"

    The Trade War has been going on for decades
    The difference now is that Trump is starting to shoot back

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