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Colorado's congressional delegation unhappy with tariffs

March 8, 2018 Updated: March 8, 2018 at 7:21 pm
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Colorado's congressional delegation includes some of the prominent Republicans pushing back on President Trump's move Thursday afternoon to place tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

Plenty of pundits and lawmakers fear the tariffs could set off a trade war with the European Union that could prove destructive to some U.S. industries, as well as the nation's economic vitality.

"Today, I'm defending America's national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum," Trump said Thursday at a White House signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room.

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, said he agreed with Trump's view that the U.S. needs fair trade agreements, but he thinks Trump's broad tariffs could misfire instead of delivering higher wages and economic growth.

"I am disappointed in this announcement and will be working with the businesses that may be potentially impacted by this decision along with the administration about how best to continue our joint efforts to create jobs and spur new growth," Gardner said.

Another sometimes-critic of the president, Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, said Trump should have first filed a complaint against unfair trading practices with the World Trade Organization, before throwing such a haymaker.

"These tariffs run counter to the progress we have made to raise wages and to create more jobs," Coffman said. "Undoubtedly, the resulting higher steel and aluminum prices are clearly nothing more than a tax on the American people."

Coffman was one of dozens of House members who signed a letter to the president Wednesday asking him to use tariffs to address specific trade imbalances, instead of sweeping action, such as he took Thursday. The letter was also signed by Republican Reps. Ken Buck of Windsor and Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs.

Lamborn, a frequent ally of the president, wasn't immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon. The letter signed by Coffman, Buck and Lamborn added that taxes in the form of tariffs would undermine the economic momentum of the recently passed GOP tax reform plan.

"Because tariffs are taxes that make U.S. businesses less competitive and U.S. consumers poorer, any tariffs that are imposed should be designed to address specific distortions caused by unfair trade practices in a targeted way while minimizing negative consequences on American businesses and consumers," the letter states.

Last week, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver responded to the president's tweets about impending tariffs, saying "reckless tweets" could provoke a trade war that will cost jobs, hurt businesses and lead to inflation.

"We need a thoughtful and aggressive response to China's overproduction of steel and aluminum, but blanket tariffs are not the answer," said Bennet, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. "The president's action, motivated by his political whims rather than effective policy, will invite retaliation and isolate us further from our trading partners."

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