National Security

Tariffs and National Security

Despite the cost of Trump's proposed steel tariffs, our military could benefit from a boost in production.

Harold Hutchison · Mar. 8, 2018

Let’s face it, the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that President Donald Trump intends to impose — or is getting cold feet on — are not exactly normal GOP policy on economics. Yet while there are a lot of new sectors in the American economy, including technology, the fact is steel and aluminum matter — for our national security.

Think about the aircraft carriers that form the primary power projection assets of the United States Navy. These 100,000+ ton vessels are loaded with high-tech gadgets, but they’re made of steel. Same with the Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that escort them. The M1 Abrams main battle tanks that our Soldiers and Marine use? Yes, there’s advanced Chobham armor, but there is also a lot of steel.

See a common thread? Steel is something needed for the ships and tanks our troops use. Look at the planes we fly and rifles our troops carry. They use aluminum. Lots of it. Now, think about that for a moment. Who do you trust to provide the steel and aluminum that is used to make everything from a M4 carbine to the Ford-class supercarriers, Communist China or America?

That’s part of the bigger picture we need to take in as we consider these tariffs. Now, tariffs, like the corporate income tax, are passed on to the American public when we buy stuff. It means some higher prices. But then again, there was a major cut in corporate tax rates, and that could more than even things out.

But tax cuts or not, America needs the type of industry that can provide the steel and aluminum the military needs. And the first job of the federal government is our national security. With that in mind, there was one big mistake President Trump made when floating the tariffs. He should have combined it with a massive naval buildup. This would have given American steel and aluminum a huge boost, especially when you think that such a buildup would have given an impetus to modernize steel and aluminum production capabilities.

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