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TPP Advocates Karl Rove and Paul Ryan March in Lockstep Against Trump’s Populist Tariffs

Paul Ryan and Karl Rove
The Associated Press
Washington, D.C.

Former George W. Bush official Karl Rove and House Speaker Paul Ryan are begging President Trump’s administration to water-down proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Ryan — an avid free-trader — said he opposed Trump’s proposed 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, asking the White House to be “more targeted” on trade.

Specifically, Ryan said the administration should be only going after China on trade, rather than imposing global tariffs on steel and aluminum.

“I think the smarter way to go is to make it more surgical and more targeted,” Ryan said. [Emphasis added]

“What we’re encouraging the administration to do is to focus on what is clearly a legitimate problem and to be more surgical in its approach so that we can go after the true abusers without creating any kind of unintended consequences or collateral damage,” Ryan continued. [Emphasis added]

On Fox Business, Rove echoed Ryan’s statements against Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, saying he had a “bad reaction” to the populist trade initiative. Rove, like Ryan, says Trump should be solely going after China.

I thought the issue here was China and China’s dumping of steel, so we’re going to get at China by hurting our allies, neighbors, Mexico and Canada,” Rove said. “This ought to be more narrowly targeted. This ought to be focused on the abuse.” [Emphasis added]

Ryan and Rove were two of the biggest Republican defenders and advocates for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, also supported by former President Obama, which Trump campaigned hard against and ultimately killed by executive action, saving millions of American jobs in the process.

In November 2015, when Trump was already campaigning against TPP, Ryan continued defending the multinational free trade agreement which was expected to not only eliminate millions of U.S. working and middle-class jobs, but also drive down wages for remaining American workers.

Ryan said at the time that TPP had “great potential.”

In the same month that Ryan was continuing to promote TPP, Rove wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal where he railed against Trump for opposing the multinational free trade agreement.

“Mr. Trump’s worst moment came when he attacked the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal,” Rove wrote, defending TPP.

Ryan and Rove’s attacks on Trump’s tariffs are similar to those by the White House’s trade globalists, including adviser Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Defense Secretary James Mattis. As Breitbart News reported, the band of trade globalists desperately tried to stop Trump from proposing the aluminum and steel tariffs but failed.

Meanwhile, one of Trump’s close economic nationalist allies in the White House, Peter Navarro, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that “it’s going to be a great day for America” when Trump signs the new tariffs into law. Navarro also blasted the free trade absolutism of the Democratic and Republican establishment, multinational corporations, and mainstream media.

“I think the record is clear on these free trade agreements,” Navarro said. “They always are done with promises for significant jobs for Americans and significant access to markets, and we always lose dramatically once the ink is signed.”

Multinational free trade agreements have been responsible for massive manufacturing outsourcing and job loss over the last two decades. For example, the KORUS free trade agreement has displaced at least 60,000 American workers since its enactment in 2007.

Meanwhile, since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in the 1990s, at least one million net U.S. jobs have been lost because of the free trade deal. Between 2000 and 2014, there have been about five million manufacturing jobs lost across the country as trade deficits continue soaring.

One former steel town in West Virginia lost 94 percent of its steel jobs because of NAFTA, with nearly 10,000 workers in the town being displaced from the steel industry. Since China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, there have been 3.2 million American jobs lost with 2.4 million of those jobs coming from the U.S. manufacturing sector.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.

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