U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) has been a fierce critic of President Donald Trump’s trade policies and sharply criticized his tariff proposals. He is a chief protagonist for free trade in the U.S. Senate representing Nebraska that he says is one of the most pro-trade states in the nation.
On March 1st, after President Trump suggested that he would raise tariffs on steel and aluminum Sasse said, “Let’s be clear: The President is proposing a massive tax increase on American families. Protectionism is weak, not strong. You’d expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one.”
President Trump the next day tweeted support for a trade war.
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018
Sasse responded, “Trade wars are never won. Trade wars are lost by both sides. Kooky 18th century protectionism will jack up prices on American families — and will prompt retaliation from other countries. Make no mistake: If the President goes through with this, it will kill American jobs — that’s what every trade war ultimately does. So much losing.”
“We’re on the verge of a painful and stupid trade war, and that’s bad. This isn’t just bad for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska who need to buy a new tractor, it’s also bad for the moms and dads who will lose their manufacturing jobs because fewer people can buy a more expensive product. Temporary exceptions for Canada and Mexico are encouraging but bad policy is still bad policy, and these constant NAFTA threats are nuts,” Sasse responded.
Sasse has recently met with the Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton to discuss NAFTA in late February:
“Trade is a win-win for Nebraskans and Canadians. Canada and Mexico are Nebraska’s largest trading partners, and that means NAFTA is a good deal for our state. We need to make sure we have markets that let Nebraskans keep feeding the world. I’m committed to trade, the Ambassador is committed to trade, and Nebraska thrives with trade,” Sasse said
“I told Ambassador MacNaughton that maple syrup may be good for breakfast but Nebraska beef is great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Joking or not, these are just undeniable facts.”
As President Trump rolled out his new tariffs, Sasse organized a meeting between Nebraskan farmers and the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., Gerónimo Gutiérrez, to discuss free trade.
Sasse further criticized the President’s policies at that meeting.
“Walking right to the brink of a trade war is dangerous. As the anti-trade nonsense in Washington gets louder, our trading partners are getting ready to retaliate against Nebraska agriculture. A trade war would needlessly target Nebraska farmers and ranchers. Here’s the good news: free-trade is a win-win for our state. The best advocates for trade are Nebraskans. We know trade best because we do it better than anyone – it’s our job to feed the world. That’s why it’s good to have these Nebraskans at the table with the ambassador today. Our message is simple: Mexico wants Nebraska agriculture and we want Mexico’s money for our crops,” he said.