James Smith – the frontrunner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in South Carolina – is railing against new aluminum and steel tariffs imposed by the administration of U.S. president Donald Trump. He’s also challenging incumbent “Republican” governor Henry McMaster – a Trump supporter and one of three frontrunners for the GOP gubernatorial nomination – to take a stand against the president’s trade policies.
According to Smith, the imposition of new steel and aluminum tariffs represent another front on a broader trade war that will have adverse consequences for South Carolina workers.
This week, U.S. secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross announced that America would impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a ten percent tariff on imported aluminum from Canada, Mexico and nations of the European Union (EU). Given the extent to which these raw materials support the automotive industry, tariffs could have significant ripple effects on the economies of states with robust automotive exporting capacity.
Like Tennessee … and South Carolina.
“Here in South Carolina, we are proud of the fact that when someone drives off the BMW lot there is a one in five chance they are driving a vehicle made in Greer,” Smith said on Friday. “For the nearly 10,000 people that are employed by BMW, this is not a political issue – it is a matter of livelihood and amounts to nothing more than a tax on South Carolina families. And for the President to threaten an entire region’s economy to score political points – is not only concerning to me, it should be concerning to every voter.”
In addition to bashing Trump, Smith took aim at the establishment politician he gifted with the governor’s mansion last January.
“We need a governor who will put South Carolinians first – who will stand up to the president when he advances policies that will hurt our state,” Smith said. “I am asking governor McMaster to stand up to president Trump and protect the jobs of thousands of South Carolinians employed by BMW.”
McMaster? Stand up to Trump?
Trump is literally the only thing McMaster has going for him in his bid for reelection, even if the latter’s relationship with the former hasn’t helped South Carolina in the tariff battle – or in the ongoing fight over the closure of a federal nuclear fuel processing facility in Aiken County, S.C.[timed-content-server show=’2018-Jan-17 00:00:00′ hide=’2018-Jun-18 00:00:00′]
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According to data from Commerce, America imported 34.6 million metric tons of steel in 2017 – up 15 percent from the previous year. Canada is the largest exporter of steel to the United States. Aluminum imports also shot up – by 24.7 percent last year.
Canada was the leading exporter in that category as well.
“A strong American economy benefits the world, and President Trump’s tariff announcement seeks to undo years of steel and aluminum dumping that has degraded our nation’s underlying economic capacity, Manning said. “A vibrant steel and aluminum industry is necessary not only for national defense purposes, but along with energy dominance creates the foundation for a 21st century manufacturing economy.”
Manning acknowledged that “disruption of the status quo is difficult, and people complain because the rules have been changed,” however he added Trump was simply fulfilling one of his promises during the 2016 presidential election.
“The American people elected president Trump to change the rules, to put America first and put the U.S. back on the pathway to worldwide economic leadership,” he said.
Hard to argue that point …
Our view? We believe Manning is absolutely correct when it comes to the economic implications … and his organization is unrivaled in its credibility when it comes to combatting unfair global trade deals. In fact, he was literally on the ground floor with Trump when this issue first emerged during the 2016 campaign.
Having said that, we believe the issue will be a political winner for Smith … and potentially a significant loser for McMaster.
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Banner: James Smith for Governor