President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to criticize motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson, as the iconic American company announced it would shift production jobs out of the United States, because of the fallout from Mr. Trump’s decision to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Mexico, Canada and Europe, as stocks had their biggest drop since April amid fears of a growing trade war.
“Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag,” the President tweeted, after news arrived that the U.S. motorcycle company was moving production jobs overseas, in order to avoid retaliatory tariffs on American exports.
At a campaign rally in South Carolina on Monday night, the President made no mention of the Harley decision, as he showed no hint that he would be backing off his tough trade stances.
“We’re winning on trade,” Mr. Trump said to cheers.
But on Tuesday morning, he grew increasingly frustrated on Twitter, denouncing the company, and predicting its eventual demise, saying, ‘it will be the beginning of the end.’
But for lawmakers in Congress – they don’t seen this as ‘winning,’ as members in both parties bluntly said the President shouldn’t be surprised by the Harley-Davidson move, continuing to argue that Mr. Trump’s tariffs will only cause domestic economic collateral damage.
“The problem isn’t that Harley is unpatriotic – it’s that tariffs are stupid,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). “They’re tax increases on Americans, they don’t work, and apparently we’re going to see more of this.”
“Unfortunately, this confirms my concerns and is a far too predictable outcome of policies that give companies like Harley-Davidson incentive to make their products elsewhere,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) of the Harley-Davidson decision.
Last week at a Senate hearing, lawmakers of both parties gave a tongue lashing to the Secretary of Commerce over the President’s tariffs, as the gulf grows between Congress and Mr. Trump over trade.
Asked directly about the loss of jobs in the state of Wisconsin because of the Harley-Davidson move, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders jabbed at European governments, but didn’t directly answer a question about it.
“The European Union is attempting to punish U.S. workers with unfair and discriminatory trade policies,” Sanders said, sidestepping a query about the President’s reaction to the Harley announcement.
But concerns over the tit-for-tat tariffs filtered into stock markets on Monday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 328 points, a drop of 1.33 percent.
It was the sharpest drop in U.S. stocks since April, and followed losses in Europe and Asia.
Democrats also criticized another major U.S. company, General Motors, for deciding to move production of the Chevy Blazer to Mexico, which will result in layoffs at a GM plant in Ohio.
“On the very same day GM laid off the entire second shift at the historic Lordstown plant in the Mahoning Valley, we got word that GM plans to build its new Chevy Blazer in Mexico,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Brown charged that GM’s decision wasn’t based on the President’s tariffs, but rather on the changes made in a sweeping GOP tax cut plan.
“That’s right, the company is bypassing American workers and sending more jobs to Mexico,” Brown said on the Senate floor.
“They’re laying off 1,500 Ohio workers,” he added.
“So GM is moving production to Mexico, Harley-Davidson moving production to Europe,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH).
“I must have a different definition of winning,” the Ohio Democrat wrote on Twitter.
“Trade wars hurt Americans,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “Tariffs are taxes.”