Ohio Gov. John Kasich called President Donald Trump’s new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum “nuts” and said he was “shocked” Republican leaders were not forcing the White House to back down on the penalties imposed on Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
In an interview Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation, warned the tariffs would “cost consumers, slow down the economy. It’s nuts,” adding “walking away from free trade and going to protectionism is going to yield … products that are not as good, products that are going to cost more.”
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Kasich, widely believed to be considering an independent bid for president in 2020, saved his harshest criticism for his Republican colleagues in the U.S. Senate and House, saying he was “frankly shocked” that GOP lawmakers showed no sign of passing a bill to scrap the new tariffs.
Saying Republicans have “been in favor of free trade as long as I can remember,” Kasich said he is “shocked at the fact that our leaders think they have to ask for permission from the president to do anything.”
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“This is very foreign to me,” said Kasich, who served in the House from 1983 through 2000. “It’s alien to me. When you are elected to the United States Senate or the United States House of Representatives you have the duty to represent your district, but most important, represent your country, not to just be thinking about your political party.”
Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have sharply criticized Trump on the tariffs, there is little sign that the GOP-controlled Congress will attempt to override the White House decision.
Kasich also belittled Trump’s 2016 campaign theme of “America First,” the clarion call of the isolationists in the 1930 which historians regard as a factor in the outbreak of World War II. Every post-war president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama rejected isolationism, prompting Kasich to say under Trump “we’re going it alone.”
“It’s not America First, it’s America Alone,” Kasich said. “And I think it’s just not good policy; in fact it borders on dangerous in my opinion.”
“The president of France said … when you take nationalism as (an) approach to your economy it can lead to war,” Kasich said. “And we know what happened when we’ve imposed all these barriers on people in the past. The economy slowed down, people paid higher prices and then beyond that it increases acrimony among our friends. I mean we’re punishing our friends.”
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