Speaking to Bowling Green business leaders Thursday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, called President Donald Trump’s plan to levy escalating tariffs on Mexico “a bad idea” that would ultimately hurt American consumers.
“It’s a $17 billion increase in taxes, and I think it’s bad for Kentucky and bad for business,” Paul said during a roundtable event at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce.
U.S. and Mexican officials labored for a second day Thursday to avoid import tariffs Trump threatened to impose to strong-arm Mexico into curbing Central American migration to America’s southern border, The Associated Press reported.
If talks fail, a 5 percent tax on all Mexican goods imported into the U.S. would go into effect Monday, with monthly increases to follow until the tariffs reach 25 percent, according to Trump.
During the roundtable discussion, Paul also took questions on health care, trade with China, immigration and reforming entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.
Addressing tariffs on Mexican imports, Paul said it could hurt America’s economy and threaten progress on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. The latest deal has been signed by all three countries but needs to be authorized by their legislatures.
“It disrupts the USMCA deal that they spent two years doing,” Paul said. “The USMCA deal is good for our autoworkers, is good for our automobile manufacturers and I haven’t met anybody in Kentucky who doesn’t want it.”
Paul also opposed the move on constitutional grounds, adding that even though he supports Trump, “I don’t want him to have too much power because there needs to be checks and balances.
“There’s a separation of powers and the reason is so one person doesn’t accumulate too much power,” he said.
Trump faces growing opposition to the tariffs from his own party in Congress, which he has pushed back against.
A “lot of people, senators included – they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to tariffs,” Trump said, according to the AP. “They have no – absolutely no idea.”
Speaking Thursday, Paul reiterated that Congress should hold the line against the move.
“I think we need to resist that for constitutional reasons and also (it’s) not good for our economy,” he said.
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