Tags: Donald Trump | Trump Administration | jeff flake | tariffs | steel | aluminum

Sen. Flake: Trump's Tariffs Bad Policy, Awful Politics

Sen. Flake: Trump's Tariffs Bad Policy, Awful Politics
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 06 March 2018 03:44 PM

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., slammed President Donald Trump for his proposed stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, telling MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday that even if he does not think it is bad policy, he should at least realize it is bad politics.

The Arizona Republican stressed "the politics of it are awful for Republicans. We have a conducive tax and regulatory environment now so the economy looks good going ahead. That could all be reversed with a trade war. And so I would hope if he is unable to look at the policy side of it, at least look at the politics."

Flake also commented on Trump's habit of saying something in a meeting on television and then stepping back from it, wondering if it would happen again on this issue.

"There is a phenomenon," he said. "We saw it on immigration. We've now seen it on guns where there's a Tuesday Trump versus a Thursday Trump. I hope that there is a Thursday Trump on this issue where he says, that's just not a good way to go. We cannot spark a trade war. This is not a good way to prod the Mexicans or the Canadians into renegotiation of NAFTA. NAFTA has been great for Mexico, it's been great for Canada, but it's also been great for us. This is not a zero-sum game."

Turning to the Korean peninsula, Flake also commented on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's agreement to hold a summit meeting with South Korea's president next month and impose a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests if his country has talks with the United States.

"This is encouraging news," Flake said, although he emphasized he is not sure Pyongyang can be trusted. "But it is encouraging to see that they're ready to talk. And they want what virtually every country wants, particularly a country like North Korea, security guarantees. And so that is a place to start, at least."

The senator also pointed out what might make this different from other times is North Korea is "in a position that they haven't been before. Prior to now they haven't been seen as a legitimate nuclear threat. Now they are. So that really changes the game."

When asked why he thought other Republican colleagues have not called out objective wrongs that the president has done, Flake said, "It's a tough place to be. If you're looking for re-election, I can tell you, you don't want to be on the other side of the president in any red state or red district."

He said it was painful to watch his GOP colleagues make these calculations and eventually they will have to distance themselves from Trump, although so far "Every time I see that crack, the next week it's filled and people are right back in line."

However, he stressed "If the president stays down in the 30s in popularity, we're driving – I mean, young people have been walking away from the party for a while. Now they're in a dead sprint. And that has got to worry people," and perhaps if upcoming elections results turn against Republicans, "maybe that will jolt some people to realize we don't have a future as a party if we're driving away Independents."

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President Donald Trump's proposed stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, even if it not bad policy, he should at least realize it is bad politics, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
jeff flake, tariffs, steel, aluminum
Tuesday, 06 March 2018 03:44 PM
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