Hey Trump, start listening to your advisers

Retaliatory tariffs demonstrate Trump's lack of expertise, disregard of closest advisers unwise

· Apr 4, 2018 Tweet

Gage Skidmore/flickr

On March 1, President Donald Trump imposed steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, arguing that relying on imported metals threatens national security and that the tariffs would protect domestic producers of aluminum and steel from foreign competition.

Despite encouragement to drop pursuit of these tariffs, Trump proceeded and is now seeing the immediate consequences. On April 1, the Chinese government announced that tariffs would be applied to 128 imported American products in retaliation to Trump’s actions. Two of these products include pork and seamless steel pipes. Pork — an important export for a large number of American farmers, many of whom voted for Trump — would be a devastating hit with a 25 percent tariff.

In no way was Trump ignorant of the steep, far-reaching tariffs on aluminum and steel’s potential consequences. Over 100 Republican lawmakers sent Trump a letter urging him to reconsider this particular course and focus on unfair trading partners. Trump’s now former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn warned Trump of potential trade wars and resigned when Trump disregarded his guidance.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis informed Trump the tariffs would stress relations with security allies. Foreign officials threatened to impose tariffs in retaliation. Trumps seemingly completely disregarded these warnings and threats and chose to impose the tariffs anyway.

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Trump has a history of ignoring advice from advisers and global officials, most of whom have greater knowledge than him. Last month, Trump expressed congratulations to Russian president Vladimir Putin after explicit instructions not to in his briefing materials. This congratulations was met with criticism from Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who said, “An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.”

In December, Trump announced that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and went against the efforts of his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his special representative on international negotiations Jason Greenblatt. The announcement, as well as the plan to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, was met with swift backlash from U.S. allies and Palestinian leaders, contributing to already high tensions in the region.

Trump’s disregard for the people whose sole responsibility is to help him has become old news. But Chinese retaliatory tariffs are the clearest sign yet that Trump needs to reassess this destructive decision-making process. This particular instance of Trump acting against the advice of others won him support from American steel and aluminum industries at the expense of a chief adviser, the U.S.’s international reputation and now those American producers of 128 different goods who will feel the effects of Chinese tariffs.

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Trump has proven time and time again that, despite what he may believe about his own performance, making decisions in the face of pushback on every side does not work. It does not work for the American people, it stresses trade relationships with key allies and it does not do any favors for Trump’s political career.

Trump does not have the political or military experience that former presidents could draw from. Simply listening to others with more experience and knowledge could have helped him avoid retaliatory Chinese tariffs and the inevitable harm they will do to American producers and consumers. Moving forward, Trump must keep this lesson in mind and consult advisers who are experts in their fields, as well as keep the words of Congress and other world leaders in mind.

Trump already faces a rocky road to reelection with a multitude of other scandals and a reenergized Democratic party. By continuing to disregard advice, Trump only further distances himself from his own administration, the international community and his own party. He needs to correct these mistakes and open up to guidance from others and, more importantly, understand that his choice to make decisions without input from others has real consequences for the American people he is meant to represent and protect.

Juliet Dupont ([email protected]) is a freshman intending to major in political science and journalism.


This article was published Apr 4, 2018 at 6:38 pm and last updated Apr 4, 2018 at 6:38 pm


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