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Trump mocks politicians opposed to tariffs as ‘babies’ — that includes some prominent Republicans

Posted at 10:59 AM, Oct 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-01 12:59:10-04

President Donald Trump on Monday mocked politicians opposed to tariffs as “babies” during remarks touting his administration’s efforts to secure a trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico — even though some leading members of his own political party have vehemently opposed tariffs.

“Without tariffs, we wouldn’t be talking about a deal,” Trump said in the Rose Garden as he touted a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Just for those babies out there that keep talking about tariffs — that includes Congress, ‘oh, please don’t charge tariffs’ — without tariffs, we wouldn’t be standing here,” he said. “I can tell you … all of these folks would not be standing here right now.”

A number of Republicans — including House Speaker Paul Ryan — have expressed opposition to tariffs.

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, reacted critically to the news that Trump was moving to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico and the European Union at the end of May, saying he did not agree with the strategy.

“I disagree with this decision,” Ryan said in a statement at the time. “There are better ways to help American workers and consumers. I intend to keep working with the president on those better options.”

CNN reached out to Ryan’s office for comment on the President’s remarks Monday.

Last month, Ryan reiterated his opposition to tariffs at a question-and-answer event, but repeatedly backed the strategy of getting better agreements with allies, then rallying the developed world to go after China.

“I tell people to just hold on, to be patient and bear with the fact there is a plan and a strategy with a landing point,” he said when asked what he tells farmers in Wisconsin concerned about tariffs.

At the Economic Club of Washington in July, Ryan said that tariffs “risk a decline in American influence.”

“We have to continue to pursue new agreements while we strengthen our existing ones,” Ryan said. “We risk having jobs being moved overseas and we risk a decline in American influence. All of this matters. As our generals will tell you, these agreements are just as important for our national security as they are for our economy.”

He added the Trump administration is “right” to be vocal about trade abuses, but that new tariffs aren’t the answer.

“This administration has been vocal about trade abuses taking place and they are right to be,” he said. “They do take place. There are unquestionably bad actors, most notably China, but I’ve made my view clear, new tariffs are not the solution.”

In a statement released on Monday, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri stated that he hopes there will be “quick action” by the Trump administration to get rid of “steel and aluminum tariffs with Canada and Mexico.”

“Congratulations to President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on the USMCA trade agreement,” Blunt said in his statement, referring to the agreement, which has been dubbed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“I hope this leads to quick action by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on eliminating steel and aluminum tariffs with Canada and Mexico,” he added.