By No Labels
A majority of Americans support placing tariffs on foreign steel imports to protect the U.S. steel industry, according to a No Labels-Harris Poll conducted last week.
President Trump announced tariffs that will tax foreign steel imports at 25 percent and aluminum imports at 10 percent beginning in about two weeks. Some allies, such as Canada and Mexico, will be exempted. Other countries will see the price of gaining access to the U.S. market increase.
“We’re going to be very fair, we’re going to be very flexible, but we’re going to protect the American worker — as I said I would do in my campaign,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post.
The No Labels-Harris poll showed that 54 percent of Americans favored the steel tariffs, including 75 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents. The majority held across all income brackets and all education levels.
However, only 40 percent of Democrats agreed. Most favored the current system along with 46 percent of independents and 25 percent of Republicans. The poll, conducted by Harris Insights and Analytics March 6 to 8, queried 2,043 U.S. adults.
The poll numbers show several important aspects of America’s attitude toward trade policy, and some very interesting changes.
For starters, the president may be more in line with American sentiment than other Republican leaders who have opposed the tariffs. Some in Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have come out against the tariffs, saying the move is too broad and that only certain countries that violate international trade law should be targeted.
“I disagree with this action and fear its unintended consequences,” Ryan told the Post.
The poll numbers also show that Democratic and Republican attitudes may be shifting away from traditional norms when it comes to trade policy. Democrats have traditionally been advocates of protecting American industries, but the poll shows a majority oppose tariffs. Republicans have traditionally been free traders, but the poll indicates they favor tariffs.
“The orders were Mr. Trump’s most expansive use of federal power to rewrite the rules of global trade since he took office and upended the prevailing consensus on free markets that has largely governed Washington under administrations of both parties for decades,” The New York Times wrote.