Rep. Brat urges targeted approach to tariffs

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 6, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we're down by $30 billion, $40 billion, $60 billion, $100 billion, the trade war hurts them. It doesn't hurt us.


TRISH REGAN, GUEST HOST: The E.U. announcing retaliatory tariffs on American goods if President Trump touch does not back down on his plan to tax steel imports.

Could this wash away the benefits from those GOP tax cuts?

We're asking GOP Congressman from Virginia Dave Brat.

Congressman, welcome.

REP. DAVE BRAT, R—VIRGINIA: Hey, Trish. Great to be with you. Thank you.

REGAN: You worried about these tariffs?

BRAT: Yes, I think we got to have a much more targeted approach.

The president is right. Unfair trade, you have got to go after it. We pay $2 trillion in regulation. The rest of the country doesn't. And then we say go free trade.

And so the president is on to something. Bernie is on to something. The middle class hasn't had their wages increased in 30 years. But, often, trade is the effect of productivity. Trade can cause productivity, but it’s also the effect.

And so we have got to ramp up our education levels, our productivity. The tax cuts we just put in place are going to put more capital in the hands of our worker.

That will increase productivity dramatically. And so people are going to get money back in their checks and they're going to see economic growth go up because productivity is going up. So, if you shrink trade, that will reduce productivity.


REGAN: But let me ask you this.

BRAT: Right. You bet.

REGAN: How is it right, how is it fair if another country taxes our exports that they're importing into their country, but we're not doing the same? In other words, that`s not a level playing field. Right?

BRAT: Right.

REGAN: Why can't we just all play by the same set of rules?

BRAT: No, I agree with you there. Right.

And that's what I was getting at. It has got to be free and fair trade. Free means no tariffs. And so the Chinese, for 20 years, we have let them get away with a lot of this, because we were hoping the next generation would grasp onto the freedom agenda.

And so they have somewhat. Right. The next generation is going in the way of freedom and capitalism, et cetera. Their politics hasn't become free. And so we have done that as an intermediate step.

But now it's been too long. Now the president said, I'm going to fight on behalf of American workers. And so we do want to equalize the playing field. But, on the other hand, the small guys back home in my district and across the country, right, the people that work with the metals and the aluminums, et cetera, the processors, the fabricators, they are going to get hurt.


BRAT: And so there's 140,000 folks who work and have jobs in steel production. But there's five million that do the fabricating.

REGAN: Right. Right. Right. But -- but -- but the point -- the reason why they're going after steel, though, is because it`s an important resource that we need nationally in the case of, God forbid, you're in a war situation.

BRAT: Yes. Yes.

REGAN: You need to be able to count on your steel industry and your aluminum industry.

BRAT: Yes.

REGAN: And that's why those particularly two industries have been targeted for tariffs by the president, correct?

BRAT: Yes.

No, and there is an argument there. And the number of steel mills and giant plants we have has gone down dramatically. A lot of that is due to productivity and technology at play.

And so the best thing we can do as a country is get our head back on straight in terms of what creates productivity, and that's a better education. The kids in K-12 and higher-ed, we have got to say pro-business is a good thing.

REGAN: Yes. I know. I`m with you. I`m with you on the education.

BRAT: Yes.

REGAN: But the problem is, you have got a problem right now.

BRAT: Yes. That's -- yes.

REGAN: In other words, people are losing their jobs. And you can talk about education all you want, but education isn't going to have enough of an effect in the here and now.

BRAT: Yes. That's right.

REGAN: Anyway, I got to leave it there.

But, Congressman, it's always good to see you.

BRAT: You bet.

REGAN: Thank you very, very much.

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