President Trump totally slayed at dealmaking Thursday — and for once, he wasn't the only one saying it. The president kicked off his implementation of steel and aluminum tariffs with a gaffe for the ages.
It came during the White House signing ceremony for the agreement, in which President Trump was surrounded by hard-hatted steelworkers. At the gathering, local steelworkers-union president Scott Sauritch told the audience about how his father had lost his job because of steel imports back in the '80s. "What that does to a man with six kids is devastating," he said. "I never want to see it happen again."
On retaking the mic, Trump asked Sauritch, "What’s your father’s name?"
"Herman," Sauritch replied.
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Well, your father Herman is looking down. He’s very proud of you right now," Trump said.
“Oh, he’s still alive,” Sauritch said, as the audience (including Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin) chuckled.
"Then he's even more proud," said Trump.
Although representatives for the afterlife haven't complained, the Trump tariffs have roiled economists and his own party.
What are the Trump tariffs?
Trump signed an proclamation imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, which will go into effect in 14 days. "We're urging all companies to buy American — that's what we want," Trump said at the signing. "The action taken today follows a nine-month investigation by the Department of Commerce documenting a growing crisis in our steel and aluminum production that threatens the security of our nation, and also is bad for us economically."
Why are the Trump tariffs controversial?
After pushback from Republicans, Trump exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariffs, provided that they re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. That forestalled an immediate conflict with prominent steel- and aluminum-importing neighbors. But heads of state have warned that the president's actions could begin a trade war elsewhere, and experts say there could be job losses at home.
While steelmaking jobs may temporarily rise, companies that rely on other imported goods could be hurt. Mark Zandi, a chief economist for Moody's Analytics, said that the U.S. may lose up to 150,000 jobs if trade partners react with "proportional response" to the tariffs. South Korea, for example, stands to lose $1.6 billion and could levy penalties of their own.
The Precision Metalforming Association, which represents about 800,000 manufacturing workers, predicts immediate negative consequences. "Our members currently are competing with companies around the world in making components, and so we think that the impact would be almost immediately," said Roy Hardy, the association's president. "The costs incurred by the manufacturers of metal components ... go up immediately, and thereby they are less competitive."