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Ramesh Ponnuru

The Five No-Good Arguments for Tariffs

Why these defenses of Trump's planned trade actions are so confusing.
A trade war won't help.

A trade war won't help.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Defenders of President Donald Trump’s apparent decision to slap tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products have made several arguments for them. None of these arguments stands up to minimal scrutiny.

1) Laura Ingraham says “Bravo!” to the tariffs because they’re a way to “take on China’s trade and IP abuses.” But the tariffs aren’t directed at China, let alone at its intellectual-property practices. The tariffs Trump has been discussing would apply to imports from any country -- and only 3 percent of our steel imports come from China.