Donald Trump’s Tariffs Get Pushback From Koch Brothers

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Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP Images

The Koch brothers are set to launch a multi-million, multi-year campaign to oppose the tariffs implemented by President Donald Trump’s administration, the Washington Post reports.

Announced today, the Koch brothers’ campaign is, they said in a press release, a demonstration of their “long-term commitment to advance common-sense trade policies that will ensure America’s brightest days are ahead, and to directly confront the protectionist ideas that would hold us back.”

Coming days after Donald Trump announced levies on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, the timing of this announcement can be considered, at the very least, symbolic.

According to Time, although Trump announced he would leave the European Union out of the trade war, he seems to have changed his mind, jeopardizing the already turbulent relationship between Europe and the U.S., and, furthermore, provoking retaliatory reaction from across the pond.

The European Union has, as The Guardian noted, decided to open a World Trade Organization (WTO) case against Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs, which the EU has referred to as illegal. The 25 percent duty on European steel and the 10 percent duty on European aluminium have prompted EU to seek trade alliances elsewhere, in Australia and Japan for instance.

European officials have refused to use the words “trade war” to describe what’s been happening between the Trump administration and the EU, although EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s statement reads, “The European Union is a peace project, including on trade.”

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  Alex Brandon / AP Images

The highly influential political network backed by the Koch brothers will seek to counter Trump tariffs through “media, activist education, grassroots mobilization, lobbying, and policy analysis,” according to a statement supplied to the Washington Post by Freedom Partners Executive Vice President James Davis who, he said, hopes this long-term commitment by the Koch brothers will confront President Trump’s protectionist ideas and steer the United States in the right direction.

Freedom Partners will spearhead the campaign, but Americans for Prosperity and the Libre Initiative, two additional Koch-sponsored organizations, have also joined in.

Daniel Garza, president of the Libre Initiative, told CNBC that free trade and open trade policies are what protects American workers, while tariffs and taxes do the opposite, raising the costs of living and imposing more costs on American businesses, making it difficult for them to compete internationally.

As CNBC notes, the Koch Brothers have — although they have publicly opposed many of Trump’s decisions — remained relatively passive up until now, but their resistance against Trump seems to have transcended statements and rhetoric, and is now officiated in the form of a full-blown campaign.

The new, aggressive stance from the ever-influential conservative — some would say libertarian-leaning — Koch family could, CNBC asserts, be particularly dangerous for the GOP, a party facing the daunting task of fighting off the incoming blue wave of Democrats in November. Likewise, the Koch campaign might force other Republicans to reconsider their fiscal positions and publicly denounce Trump tariffs in an effort to connect with voters.