Jeb Bladine: President ignores consequence ‘laws’

At press time Thursday, we were awaiting word on President Donald Trump’s plan for tariffs on steel (25 percent) and almuminum (10 percent). Earlier in the week, bending to diverse pressures, Trump suggested the tariffs may be exempted for countries that are “real friends.”

However this issue unfolds, it provides more evidence that our president does not understand, nor much care about, the “laws” of unintended consequences. For example, tariffs designed to protect one industry create price increases for other industries, and for consumers.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

In November, we heard the final Trump administration decision about average 21 percent tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. That effort to protect our timber industry may be a boon to Oregon, but the National Association of Home Builders has estimated the tariffs will cost America 9,370 full-time jobs in 2018. Construction costs, already spiked, will soar even higher.

In January, responding to complaints from a single U.S. manufacturer, the administration approved tariffs up to 10 percent on Canadian newsprint. It’s going to have a severe, negative impact on our newspaper industry, where paper prices already have increased almost 10 percent since mid-2017.

News reports this week described deep concern about the steel/aluminum tariffs from Trump advisers, congressional Republicans and others. Michelle Miller, on CBS News, traveled to Pennsylvania to get reactions from different sides of the steel debate.

One steel manufacturer expressed delight in tariffs permitting his company raise prices, perhaps adding hundreds of jobs. Another manufacturer, who buys steel to make roof parts, is expecting a slow-down in orders due to higher material costs.

Miller reported, “6.5 million workers depend on industries that buy steel. The number of workers who actually make steel? Roughly 140,000.”

Em. Prof. F. Melese of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., wrote the following to The Wall Street Journal: “President Trump is chasing the wrong deficit … Trade deficits do not contribute to budget deficits. The opposite is true … Trump should fear budget deficits, not trade deficits. A trade war that undermines faith in the U.S. would drive up interest rates, increase debt costs and squeeze discretionary spending.”

That can be appropriate, reasonable and necessary uses for carefully selective trade tariffs. But too often, the president filters out unintended consequences from his assessment of important government policies. We see it in health care, immigration, foreign policy and more.

And he probably should have considered unintended consequences in 2006 when he met Stormy Daniels.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com of 503-687-1223.


Don Dix

Not wishing to defend President Trump, but ignoring (or filtering out) unintended consequences is applicable and inclusive to most government entities from local to national to international.

Bill Clinton 'should have' accepted the offer (Sudan) to arrest Bin Laden -- Oregon 'should not have' included lawmakers and judges in PERS -- Yamhill County 'should have' built a bridge across the Willamette instead of a parking structure -- McMinnville 'should not have' planted trees on 3rd -- etc.

Murphy's Law (if anything can go wrong, it will), applies to most decisions and ideas of the human experience. Trump just joins an extremely long list of wrong-headed decision-makers. And it will continue because how humans roll.

Jeb Bladine

Having criticized this tariff action, I also would join in support of carefully crafted, carefully enacted activity to protect American jobs against unfair, government-subsidized "dumping" of imported goods into our economy. One way, I've long thought, is to adjust our "rapid depreciation" tax code in ways that favor American-made products.

Even that of course, as Don points out, would have unintended consequences.


Well how much of a trade deficit do we need to run before liberals say enough is enough Jeb?

Why does the worlds strongest economy have to cower before action is taken?

Who has the most to loose? Us? Or those whose countries make money hand over fist on selling their products on our soil while our products are slapped with protective tariffs?

No fan of Trump, but this article is another blatant, biased, liberal puff piece. And, it’s absolutely poorly written.

It’s a shame. Those so scared to do anything, cowering because of “unintended consequences”! When did this country become a nation of wimps?

My grandfather would be ashamed, having fought in WW2 and Korea.

What a joke.

Don Dix

Denise wrote -- 'how much of a trade deficit do we need to run before liberals say enough is enough?' You may not live long enough to see that day, Denise!

Jeb Bladine

So angry, Denise. So derogatory. So many labels. So many signs of hate-talk intended to bully. You can't be a real happy person.

Here's a quote from someone else who was concerned about unintended consequences of broad-based tariffs:

“There is a lot of concern among Republican senators that this could sort of metastasize into a larger trade war, and many of our members are discussing with the administration just how broad, how sweeping this might be ... And there’s a high level of concern about interfering with what appears to be an economy that's taking off in every respect.”

That liberal wimp? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


So called "far left liberals" have been talking about tariffs for many years now. It has been the corporate wing of the democratic party and republicans who have supported and passed our trade deals. Trump is bucking the entire republican party with his tariff on steel and aluminum. It's too bad he is making a stab in the dark with only specific tariffs rather than a complete overhaul of our trade policy. Here's a pretty good article by Thom Hartmann. https://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2018/03/democrats-should-steal-trumps-thunder-trade

Jeb Bladine

Nice contribution, Mudstump ... good reminder of historic politics on tariffs. Too bad the national debate (and national news coverage) doesn't focus on that kind of perspective.

I guess I'm a little sensitive these days to tariff decisions. They have prompted 15% jump in newsprint prices since July, and that coming before this week's announcement of new 22-plus-percent penalties upcoming on Canadian newsprint.

As with so many things, I suppose, follow the money.


Dead on concerning Denise, Jeb. I don’t even bother reading her bitter, know-it-all comments anymore. Total waste of my time.

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