Trump trumpets trade tactics at Illinois steel mill

A day after agreeing to wide-ranging negotiations on trade with leaders of the European Union, President Donald Trump took credit for a resurgence in heavy industry jobs in the steel industry, arguing that his tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Europe, Canada, and Mexico were bolstering American security and economic growth.

“We love our steel workers, and our steel workers are going back to work,” the President said at a U.S. Steel plant in Granite City, Illinois, which has added on shifts since Mr. Trump’s tariffs were put in place.

“We are once again pouring new American steel into the spine of our country,” the President said to cheers.

In his remarks, Mr. Trump mixed in support for his tariffs with pointed talk for other nations, saying that “no one rips off the United States” on trade anymore.

While the President trumpeted his stance on steel and aluminum tariffs, he also gave a brief mention to an emergency $12 billion bailout plan for farmers which was issued this week by the Agriculture Department, as farm communities have been hit hard by retaliatory tariffs from other nations, angered by the steel and aluminum import duties.

Mr. Trump said he believes farmers understand their pain is part of his larger plans.

“They interview them on television, and they say, ‘he’s doing the right thing,'” the President said of farmers hit by tariffs and lost markets.

“We’ve given them a little help,” Mr. Trump said of the $12 billion aid plan. “We’re giving them a little help.”

Asked about the aid by reporters at the White House on Thursday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin bristled at the characterization of the aid plan as a ‘bailout.’

“We’re not bailing out any farmers, that’s a ridiculous comment,” Mnuchin said.

But farmers – and farm state Senators – have been growing increasingly vocal in recent weeks, worried that their trade losses will continue for years.

At a hearing with the U.S. Trade Representative on Thursday, Senators chided the Trump Administration’s trade policy choices, as they were told there would be no aid for anyone other than farmers.

“Are you also talking about aid for small businesses…who are being hurt by this policy?” asked Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

“Agriculture has been particularly targeted,” said Robert Lighthizer, echoing the President’s complaints about retaliatory tariffs, which have been aimed at more than farm products.

“So you’re not contemplating that kind of assistance for other small businesses that are being hurt by this trade war?” Shaheen pressed.

“No. Not at this time,” said Lighthizer.

Despite the bipartisan complaints, there is no sign that Congress will act on any legislation to roll back the President’s tariffs.

The House on Thursday went home on an extended summer break, as lawmakers on that side of the Capitol won’t be back for legislative action until after Labor Day.

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