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Trump, top Republican clash over tariffs

'I don’t think tariffs are the right answer," says House Speaker Paul Ryan

Trump, top Republican clash over tariffs

By Michael Hernandez


House Speaker Paul Ryan clashed Tuesday with President Donald Trump on the president's tariffs that have triggered trade wars with some of the U.S.'s largest trading partners, including close allies. 

Trump claimed earlier in the day that tariffs “are the greatest!” amid the ongoing trade disputes.

"Countries that have treated us unfairly on trade for years are all coming to Washington to negotiate," Trump said on Twitter. "Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that - and everybody’s talking!"

The tweet comes one day before Trump is slated to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that is expected to be largely focused on bilateral trade tensions and mutually-exchanged tariffs. 

But Ryan remained adamant that levies are not the right approach to correcting trade imbalances and alleged intellectual property theft - both goals of Trump's economic policy.

“I don’t think tariffs are the right answer. I don’t support tariffs," he told reporters on Capitol Hill. "I think there are better tools that we can use to hold abusers of trade laws, and countries that perpetuate unfair trade practices, I think there are better tools to use to get them to play fairly."

"I just don't think the tariff route is the smart way to go," he added. 

Ryan said he "understands" what Trump is trying to do, but maintained tariffs are not an effective way of pursuing the president's goals. 

Trump's initial decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports due to national security concerns has sparked retaliatory economic measures from a broad range of countries and blocs, including Canada, China and the European Union.  

Additional waves of tariffs on China in particular have led to mutual escalations of the penalties.

Trump has warned of pursuing additional 20 percent tariffs on European auto imports, which has raised the specter of further levies on U.S. goods. 

While addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars Trump took aim at the EU, claiming the impacts of its trade policies on the U.S. are "incredible."

"They made $151 billion last year, our trade deficit with the European Union," he told the organization. "They sound nice, but they're rough. They're all coming in to see me tomorrow. They're all coming to the White House."

"I said, 'we're going to have to tariff your cars.' They said, 'when can we show up? When can we be there?'" Trump said to laughter. 

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