‘This is the dumbest possible way to do this’: Republican senator elbows Trump over new $100 billion tariff threat to China

  • Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska blasted President Donald Trump’s decision to impose an additional $100 billion in tariffs that target Chinese goods.
  • Sasse called the plan “nuts.”
  • Trump’s latest round of tariffs follows an earlier plan to impose $50 billion in tariffs against China.

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska blasted President Donald Trump’s decision to fuel a looming trade war with China.

“Hopefully the President is just blowing off steam again but, if he’s even half-serious, this is nuts,” Sasse said in a statement on Thursday. “China is guilty of many things, but the President has no actual plan to win right now.”

“He’s threatening to light American agriculture on fire,” Sasse continued. “Let’s absolutely take on Chinese bad behavior, but with a plan that punishes them instead of us. This is the dumbest possible way to do this.”

Sasse’s statement follows the White House’s announcement that it was exploring ways to add $100 billion in tariffs that target Chinese goods, on top of the $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods that was earlier proposed by Trump.

“In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the [US Trade Representative] to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products under which to impose such tariffs,” the White House’s statement said.

On Tuesday, the US Trade Representative announced that around 1,300 Chinese goods, such as steel and aluminum, would be subject to the $50 billion in tariffs. The next day, China fired back with $50 billion in tariffs on US goods, such as soybeans.

China’s tariffs against the US could be particularly tough on Midwestern states that are reliant on the agricultural trade, like Nebraska.

The measures are designed to protect US businesses from Chinese intellectual property theft. But they could also have serious consequences for businesses that use the goods from China – as well as consumers that buy those goods.

Bob Bryan and Bryan Logan contributed reporting.