Mulvaney asks for patience with Trump trade policy

Mulvaney asks for patience with Trump trade policy
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White House budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHillicon Valley: Trump official declines to testify on trade protections for tech | Senators call for better info-sharing on supply chain threats | Apple pulls app after Chinese pressure Overnight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions MORE on Wednesday asked for patience with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE’s trade policy as GOP lawmakers and businesses fume over escalating costs driven by tariffs.

Mulvaney said during an interview at CNBC's Capital Exchange event that he was “surprised” by the anger spurred by Trump’s tariffs because the policy is intended to boost the U.S. economy.

"Everything from regulatory policy to tax policy to energy policy to you name it, has been aimed at one thing, and that is getting the American economy back on track,” Mulvaney said.

“So why are we all of sudden now being accused of doing the exact opposite on trade?” he asked.

Mulvaney added that trade policy is uniquely difficult "because you have to get the Chinese and other countries to do what you want them to do and change their behavior.”

“That's really, really hard. So is it is going to be messier than regulatory reform was or tax reform was? Yes. Is it aimed in the same direction? Absolutely," he said.

Mulvaney’s comments come a day after the Agriculture Department announced it would offer $12 billion in direct aid to farmers hobbled by tariffs placed on U.S. agricultural exports by several key trading partners.

The European Union, Mexico, Canada and China are among several nations that imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. crops in response to Trump’s levies on aluminum and steel. The president has also imposed tariffs of $34 billion on Chinese goods, and will soon finalize levies of $16 billion more.

Tariffs on key U.S agricultural exports including wheat, corn, soybeans, beef, poultry and apples have cratered global demand for American farm goods. Billions of pounds of American crops and meat have reportedly sat idle while farmers lose money from canceled sales and lost business to cheaper foreign competitors.

Trump has defended his trade policy as a crucial and necessary push for fairer trade terms with other nations. The president has said that businesses and farmers will be better off when the levies push U.S. trading partners away from what he considers excessive trade barriers.

“Negotiations are going really well, be cool,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “The end result will be worth it!”

But GOP lawmakers, business groups and agriculture advocates have become increasingly concerned with Trump’s trade policy as tariffs on U.S goods and critical imports begin to damage the economy.

Rep. Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingHas Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? Maxine Waters is the Wall Street sheriff the people deserve Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank MORE (R-Texas) said at the CNBC event in Washington, D.C., that he is “incredulous” about Trump’s decision to offer “a bailout” to farmers to fix damage caused be his trade policy.

“A tariff is a tax. So we have a policy now that is taxing the American consumer and then bailing out U.S. farmers with welfare.” Hensarling said. “I don’t get it.”

Hensarling called on lawmakers to take back trade powers that Congress delegated to the executive branch over several decades, and predicted a bipartisan uprising if Trump goes through with plans to impose tariffs on foreign automobiles.

Mulvaney, a staunch conservative, said he doesn’t entirely agree with Trump’s approach, but feels comfortable defending it because the president has considered his views and fellow administration free-traders.

He said that he’s more closely aligned with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, while Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOvernight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions US, in reversal, does not support Brazil's entry to OECD MORE and trade adviser Peter Navarro have supported protectionist policies.

"Would it be what I would do if I was the president? No, but I'm not the president,” Mulvaney said. "Am I disappointed that maybe I'm not advocating better to change the outcome? Yes, but I'm 100 percent comfortable coming to defend these policies because I know in part that the president has heard all different sides of the argument."