Sen. Roy Blunt has aligned with President Donald Trump on plenty of issues. But on trade, the Missouri Republican has diverged from this administration.
Blunt didn’t mince words this week, describing the trade policies Trump has outlined as “terrible” in a meeting with The Star’s editorial board. The Missouri senator also offered a glimmer of hope, though, that the White House could ultimately move in the right direction.
“It can be painful getting there, but the stated trade policy may turn out to be more acceptable at the end than it looks like it would be at the beginning,” Blunt said.
Sure enough, the Trump administration let Tuesday’s deadline pass for implementing new tariffs on steel and aluminum, offering a 30-day reprieve. The delay softened the threat of a trade war that could see other nations inflict economic harm on our markets in retaliation.
The extra time should provide the opportunity for exemptions to the proposed 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum to be worked out for key U.S. allies. The initial threats emanating from the White House on trade may indeed be far worse than the final outcome.
For now, the delay is welcome, especially here in the Midwest.
Geographically, Kansas and Missouri are uniquely positioned to benefit from the global economy. Our advantage must be protected.
Now, Blunt and his fellow Republicans must do all they can to remind the president of the realities of the global economy, and to urge him to rein in the go-it-alone bravado that could do real harm.
After all, as Blunt pointed out, this region has worked hard to develop leading health research institutions and the animal science corridor.
Blunt also rightly called out the reflex of the Trump administration to frame some U.S. trade issues as matters of national security, noting “if we’re getting steel from Canada or aluminum from Canada, or Mexico, or our NATO allies or Japan, or South Korea, that it’s not a national security problem for us.”
Other Republicans in Congress, including Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler, have voiced hope that somehow, Trump the deal-maker will avert disaster and avoid the harm that proposed tariffs could do to Missouri farmers.
But wishful thinking that negotiations will work out in the end is not enough to protect our interests and capitalize on the Midwest’s strengths: our unique alignment with road, rail, air and river byways to reach foreign markets.
“We have the network to get to all these places that exceeds anyone else’s,” Blunt said.
That’s true. Don’t let the president blow it.