Trump is right on tariffs — Thats why he was elected

President Trump did the right thing in imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U. S. on Thursday. While I pride myself on being a strong supporter of free trade, I have always supported the idea of fair trade – the notion that America has the right to impose tariffs or restrict access to our markets the same way a competitor does to us.

When it comes this issue, the policy should be simple: do unto others as they do unto you. Who can argue with that?

And yet, critics – including many Republicans in Congress – are calling President Trump and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro just about everything you can think of when it comes to  the 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports that the president signed in a proclamation.

But the critics and armchair economists have this one all wrong. The administration’ s actions will not start a global trade war, cause a nasty recession or undo the international order as we know it. All of that is just fake news, designed to take down a president the mainstream media simply can’ t stand.

President Trump is simply doing what he said he would do during the presidential campaign – protecting American workers and safeguarding our national security, all at the same time.

The Trump administration, in fact, has a clear and important goal in mind: to protect U. S. jobs and industries that we must have in this country for vital national security reasons.

First,   as Peter Navarro pointed out   recently to Fox News, the U. S. aluminum industry is down to less than 10 percent of fulfilling our own domestic demand. Six smelters have stopped production since 2013, leaving our nation with only five remaining.

And only two of those smelters are in actual working order. Our steel industry has shed thousands of jobs for decades, and is under real threat of someday being destroyed in the coming years unless it is protected in some reasonable way.

Second, our nation’ s security is at stake if these industries were to disappear. As one senior White House official explained to me just this week, this could be a matter of life or death for our country.

“ Once our steel industry is gone it’ s not coming back, ” the official told me. “ Once our aluminum industry is gone, it’ s gone for good. And the ramifications could be historic. ”

The official continued: “ Think of it this way: Imagine if we had to fight a war for a sustained period and we were dependent on other nations for steel or aluminum imports for the most basic of war-fighting materials? Forget the idea that some of those nations, for example China, might be on the other side of the fight, but what happens if those nations need that steel for themselves or simply we can’ t get the steel shipped to our shores because of wartime conditions? ”

And then defending the president’ s tariffs, the official concluded: “ This is a common-sense step, and no one should get freaked out about it. ”  

Who can argue with that?

We also need to place this debate in some historical context. Other presidents have enacted similar measures, including President Obama.

Back in March 2016,   the Obama administration announced a 500 percent duty   on Chinese cold-rolled steel. Going back a little further, President George W. Bush, also applied a tariff on steel, this time at a rate of 30 percent, back in 2002.

So it shouldn’ t be a surprise that other nations as well have adopted similar policies to protect their vital industries. The European Union, for example, imposed a duty of as much as 73. 7 percent on Chinese steel just a few years ago, all in an effort to protect jobs and European economies.

President Trump is simply doing what he said he would do during the presidential campaign – protecting American workers and safeguarding our national security, all at the same time.

And the president put a human face on a problem that has touched millions of Americans across this country on Thursday by making his announcement surrounded by steel and aluminum workers. His action underscores the fact that no one has stood up for the forgotten men and women of this nation as industry after industry, job after job, has disappeared because of unfair and non-reciprocal trade practices.

Being born in Rhode Island, a state that has lost countless blue-color jobs for decades, I can relate to this issue on a personal level. I know dozens of hardworking people back home who have lost their careers because their jobs were offshored overseas or their industries were destroyed by predatory trade practices.

Now President Trump is standing up and fighting for these Americans. We can debate the policy – in fact we should, in an honest manner – but we should all be proud that our president is actually trying to do something to preserve American jobs. I know I am.

Harry J. Kazianis ( @grecianformula ) is director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest , founded by former President Richard M. Nixon. Click here, for more on Mr. Kazianis .