Alexander, Corker — and Bredesen — don’t like Trump tariffs (Update: Blackburn, too)

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, are both criticizing President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that were announced Thursday.

Press release statement from Alexander:

“This is disappointing news for Tennessee workers. President Bush’s similar steel tariffs in 2002 backfired and proved that such tariffs destroy many more U.S. manufacturing jobs than they save. Last week, just the threat of steel tariffs caused Electrolux, Europe’s largest home appliance manufacturer, to put on hold a $250 million expansion in Springfield, Tennessee, even though 100% of the steel Electrolux uses is produced in the United States. According to Electrolux, tariffs on imported steel raise prices on all steel sold in the United States and make it more difficult for U.S.-based manufacturing plants to compete with foreign manufacturers.”

Alexander spoke on the Senate floor Monday about the effect these tariffs would have on Tennessee, saying: “This is especially bad news for Tennesseans because one third of our state’s manufacturing jobs are auto jobs with more than 900 plants in 87 of our 95 counties. It will now be cheaper for some Tennessee auto parts suppliers to move outside the United States, buy steel and aluminum there and then ship finished parts back to our country.”

Press release statement from Corker:

“While I share the president’s concerns regarding Chinese steel overcapacity, I am disappointed by the administration’s approach to this problem and ultimate decision to use a rarely used national security provision to implement new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports,” said Corker. “A better way to level the playing field for American companies would be to rally our friends and allies to advance a robust, targeted effort to ensure that only those responsible for excess global capacity pay a price. Unfortunately, I fear this announcement could have far-reaching unintended consequences that will put at risk the hard fought economic gains U.S. businesses have seen over the past year. Hopefully, the president will come to realize this possibility and further narrow this announced policy.”

Press release statement from U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen

“The tariffs on steel and aluminum that were signed today are a real problem for workers in Tennessee and their families. Broad tariffs are by their nature like taking a big axe to a problem that needs a scalpel — the blow may be aimed at a real problem but usually creates lots of other damage in the process.

Here in Tennessee, both LG in Clarksville and Electrolux in Springfield have put new investment and hiring on hold in anticipation of these tariffs. Jack Daniels in Lynchburg is concerned about being damaged by the tariffs that the EU is considering in retaliation to ours. Washington needs a time out. I would urge President Trump to bring together a bipartisan group to discuss this issue. I would also urge the President to make this group light on Washington political insiders and heavy on leaders in communities out across America who actually know how this works in the real world and have some skin in this game.”

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn had no press release, but The Tennessean says she responded thusly when asked her views on the Trump tariffs:

“I think we have to tread very carefully as we look at tariffs,” Blackburn said… Blackburn said she is well aware that the state’s auto industry, as well as companies like Electrolux and LG, are concerned about the tariff proposal.

“You do not want to drive up the cost of consumer goods,” she said.

“You take a state like ours that has done well with in-sourcing jobs and also with our exports and what you don’t want to do is do anything that hurts the economic growth that we’ve seen.”

Blackburn said the tariff proposal should largely focus on what she called the top “offenders,” which she said included China.

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