Sen. Tom Cotton says proposed steel and aluminum tariffs would likely "backfire" and "hurt" American consumers — a rare expression of opposition to President Donald Trump from the Arkansas Republican.
In excerpts released Wednesday by the Washington Examiner from an interview on its podcast, "Behind Closed Doors," Cotton said he believes tariffs targeting allies and adversaries alike "would be overbroad."
"I think . . . it would probably backfire," he said. "It would probably hurt more downstream users of aluminum and steel than it would help the steel and aluminum producing sectors of our economy."
Though often allied with Trump's populist agenda, Cotton lines up with fellow Republicans who are worried the $1.4 trillion tax overhaul could be undermined by tariffs, the Examiner noted.
"I am concerned about those unintended consequences of a widespread tariff on steel and aluminum," Cotton said on the podcast. "The money that's going back to into the pockets of workers right now because of the tax cuts might end up going into the pockets of people who use and produce steel."
Still, Cotton said he is reserving judgment until he sees the final plan.
"The president's rightly concerned, as are most major industrialized countries, about China's mercantilist and protectionist policies," Cotton said on the podcast. "China's got vast overcapacity in the steel industry, and that didn't just happened through the free market. It happened through Chinese intervention in their markets.
"The president's right to be concerned about those activities. If we want to target China for its malign economic actions, we should target China," he added.
The interview airs early next week, the Examiner reported.
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