Gary Cohn says Trump's tariffs 'hurt the US'

Gary Cohn says Trump's tariffs 'hurt the US'
© Greg Nash

Former White House chief economic adviser Gary CohnGary David CohnFormer national economic council director: I agree with 50 percent of House Democrats' HEROES Act Sunday shows preview: Congress spars over next round of coronavirus relief; GOP seeks offensive after news of Flynn 'unmasking' The Memo: Speculation grows about Fauci's future MORE said Sunday that President Trump’s tariffs “hurt the U.S." and argued they did not aid the administration in negotiating trade deals. 

“I didn't think the steel and aluminum tariffs were helpful to our economy,” Cohn said on CBS's “Face the Nation," though he denied it was the sole impetus for him leaving the administration. 

Cohn stressed that he does not think that the president’s decision to enforce the tariffs helped him pass his U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) or reach phase one of a trade deal with China. 

“Can the president say, look, people may not like my tactics, but I got this done? Was he ultimately right? Were you wrong?” CBS host Margaret Brennan asked Cohn. 

“They can say that. I don't think we would have gotten to a different outcome. I don't think the tariffs helped us get to any different outcome,” Cohn responded. 

“I think it has hurt the U.S... I think it's totally hurt the United States. Look, the U.S. economy is very strong, very solid. Employment growth is great. But we're missing a big component. We're missing the capital expenditures from companies in the United States. That was a key component to tax reform. It was a key component to what we thought would help drive the economy in 2018, 2019, 2020 and on.”

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Cohn, however, denied that the tariffs were the reason he resigned from the administration, adding that Trump “was going a different direction on some trade negotiations” than he would have. 

Cohn left the White house in April 2018 after Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. 

Trump’s trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passed in the Senate Thursday with opposition from just nine Democrats and one Republican.

Trump has also been touting the recent “phase one” of a trade deal reached with China after nearly two-year long trade war between Washington and Beijing.