Blackburn urges Trump administration to reconsider ‘broad tariffs’

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn has drafted a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging the Trump administration to reconsider “broad tariffs” that raise “the grave potential for retaliatory tariffs to adversely impact industries across the state,” reports the Times Free Press.

“Tennesseans stand to suffer disproportionate and negative consequences relative to other states given the large presence of industries that rely on international trade, such as automotive, agriculture, and distilled spirits,” Blackburn says in the letter, which others are expected to sign before it’s expected to be sent Wednesday to the commerce chief.

She also says that “while we support the goal of addressing unfair trade practices, we urge you to reconsider broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to Tennessee’s economy and workers. We look forward to working with you in pursuing a targeted approach that achieves our common goal.” 

The letter represents some of Blackburn’s strongest comments yet about Trump’s bare-knuckled tactics in seeking to renegotiate international trade deals, not just with China but close U.S. security and trading partners including Mexico, Canada and the European Union.

…Blackburn’s expected Senate Democratic opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, has hit trade concerns hard. Republican U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander as well as Republican Gov. Bill Haslam have voiced concerns too.

Citing as an example Mexico’s plans to slap a 25 percent tariff on U.S. whiskey, Blackburn noted that shares of Brown-Forman, owner of Lynchburg-based Jack Daniel’s Distillery, dropped eight percent because foreign sales comprise 60 percent of the company’s overall market share.

“Tariffs are meant to punish bad actors, not harm American businesses,” Blackburn says in the letter draft.

…”Americans want trade that is both free and fair. We should not accept continued intellectual property theft by the Chinese or large tariffs being placed on American exports. However, protectionist trade policies have historically failed to yield benefits for consumers.”

Update/Note: The AP reports that Blackburn sent the letter on Wednesday with U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais, Chuck Fleischmann and Phil Roe signing it as well.

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