Ryan: Trump's tariff plan should be more 'surgical'

Ryan: Trump's tariff plan should be more 'surgical'
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis Ryan Retirees should say 'no thanks' to Romney's Social Security plan California Governor Newsom and family dress as 2020 Democrats for Halloween DC's liaison to rock 'n' roll MORE (R-Wis.) on Tuesday urged the Trump administration to take a more “surgical” and “targeted” approach to its plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and zero in on abuses from China.

“There is clearly abuse occurring. Clearly, there is over-capacity, dumping in the trans-shipping of steel and aluminum by some countries, particularly China,” Ryan told reporters after huddling with rank-and-file Republicans. “But I think the smarter way to go is to make it more surgical and more targeted.”

The Speaker made the same arguments to fellow Republicans during their closed-door GOP conference meeting, sources in the room said.


His comments on Tuesday were less harsh than a statement Ryan’s office released a day earlier that said Ryan was “extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war” triggered by the tariffs.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE has called for the U.S. to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, sparking threats of retaliatory measures by Europe and Canada.

Trump invoked a rarely used legal provision, known as Section 232, that allows him to unilaterally impose the tariffs on national security grounds. The Commerce Department found that there was a national security risk to the U.S. because of its reliance on steel and aluminum imports.

But Ryan on Tuesday said the 232 provision is “a little too broad” and “prone to retaliation.”

“What we are encouraging the administration to do is to focus on what is clearly a legitimate problem and to be surgical in its approach,” Ryan continued, “so we can go after the true abusers without causing any collateral damage or unintended consequences.”

Ryan said he’s had “multiple” discussion with Trump about his tariff plan, but would not shed any light on whether he’s making progress with the president. The Speaker added that he was not paying attention to the stock market’s volatile reaction to Trump’s tariff proposal.

“I’m not watching these gyrations in the market,” Ryan said. “What I’m trying to do is make sure we have good economic policy.”

Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.