President Donald Trump, who ran for president as a populist conservative, announced Thursday that his administration will implement new tariffs as soon as Monday.
“What’s been allowed to go on for decades is disgraceful,” he said at the meeting. “And when it comes to a time when our country can’t make aluminum and steel, and somebody said it before and I will tell you, you almost don’t have much of a country. Because without steel and aluminum, your country is not the same. We need it. We need it even for defense, if you think, we need it for defense.”
The president said he decided on tariffs of 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum.
“I remember when I was growing up, U.S. Steel — that was the ultimate company,” Trump said. “And today you have so many closed plants.”
Participants in Thursday’s closed-door meeting, arranged by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, included potentially impacted companies such as Arcelor Mittal, U.S. Steel Corporation, Nucor, Evraz, JW Aluminum, Century Aluminum, Chester Roush, Timken Steel, United Aluminum, and AK Steel.
Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world. We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2018
Trump won the GOP nomination in 2016 in part because of his unique stance on trade. While he said he supported free trade, he claimed that trade deals such as NAFTA were poorly negotiated.
Additionally, Trump also won the presidency in part because he won over blue-collar Obama voters in Midwestern states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He became the first Republican presidential nominee to win Wisconsin since 1984. He also became the first Republican since 1972 to win the Midwestern counties of Trumbull (OH), Gogebic (MI), Pepin (WI), and Kenosha (WI).