March 18, 2019 9:18 am

Bill Kelly: The Trump administration’s double-talk on tariffs solves nothing

In this Oct. 17, 2017, file photo, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, centre, speaks during the conclusion of the fourth round of negotiations for a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Washington.

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
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Robert Lighthizer, Donald Trump’s chief trade negotiator, appeared before a U.S. Senate Finance Committee meeting last week and said that the Trump administration is open to dropping the steel and aluminum tariffs that it imposed on Canada and Mexico — but also that it wants to maintain the financial benefits the tariffs have generated for Trump’s cashed-starved administration.

Why can’t the Trump administration cut the double-talk and admit that the tariffs were a wrong-headed causing significant negative economic impacts on both sides of the border?

READ MORE: U.S. working on plan to lift tariffs from Canadian steel and aluminum: trade chief

Now, it looks like Trump wants to have it both ways — but any amount of money the U.S. has accrued through tariffs would be dwarfed by the millions of dollars of lost revenue in the steel industry and related sectors.

The tariffs were a bad mistake, but sadly, because of Trump’s blatant narcissism, he won’t admit to mistakes, no matter how obvious they might be.

WATCH: U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum will be lifted, says Canada’s ambassador to U.S. (Feb. 21, 2019)

His feeble justification for the tariffs — that Canadian steel posed a threat to the United States’ national security — is, of course, ludicrous.

READ MORE: Canada pushes back on U.S. trade law that lets Trump use national security to justify tariffs

The tariffs were arbitrarily imposed at the suggestion of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, an octogenarian in Trump’s cabinet who clings to 19th-century economic theories in order to deal with a 21st-century global economy. But then again, so does his boss.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau says tariffs on Canadian steel ‘hurt’ U.S. workers (Feb. 6, 2019)

Job numbers are way down south of the border, and some manufacturing plants are closing down or relocating.

The American economy could use some stimulus. Dropping the tariffs would be a good first start.

Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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