President Trump campaigned on growing the economy, increasing wealth and prosperity for families, and ensuring America is a competitive place to do business. To date, these promises have been kept through a combination of deregulation and passage of pro-growth, pro-family tax reform.
The economy is flourishing since the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with major job growth, low unemployment, and soaring business confidence.
However, the tariffs proposed by the Trump administration threaten to undercut the success of tax reform and have widespread negative economic implications.
Tariffs – or taxes on trade – are economically destructive. They increase the price of products exported into the US, which raises costs for families and businesses that rely on imports. Tariffs also leave US businesses vulnerable to retaliatory tariffs that will make it harder to business overseas.
Many of tariffs – such as the steel and aluminum tariffs and the proposed automobile tariffs – have been initiated through Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, which allows the President to impose tariffs based on national security grounds.
Unfortunately, Congress has virtually no oversight over this process, allowing Sec. 232 to become a prime tool for executive overreach.
To ensure guardrails exist around this process, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Trade Security Act. This legislation bifurcates the Sec. 232 process by requiring the Department of Defense to justify any national security basis for new tariffs.
In addition, the Trade Security Act expands Congress’ role over the Sec. 232 review process by requiring the administration to consult with lawmakers and expanding the ability of Congress to formally disapprove of Section 232 tariffs.
Although President Trump should be applauded for fighting for more favorable trade deals, the proposed tariffs are negatively impacting American jobs, growth, and wages. In fact, the already enacted tariffs have resulted in an estimated 48,585 lost jobs, with the threatened tariffs potentially costing an additional 277,825 American jobs, according to the Tax Foundation.
Given the economic significance of these tariffs, it is crucial that Congress take back their constitutional authority to regulate trade with foreign nations. The Trade Security Act will help achieve this goal by ensuring Congress has an expanded role over the Section 232 tariff process.