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Former Adviser Praises Trump for Tax Cuts and Deregulation but Calls His Tariffs 'Stupid'

Dallas Morning News

Aidan Quigley

Stephen Moore, a former economic adviser to President Donald Trump, praised Trump’s policies on deregulation and tax reform but expressed concern about his trade policies Thursday during an event in Dallas.

Moore was hosted by the Institute for Policy Innovation, a conservative nonprofit, at the Belo Mansion. Moore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a CNN economic analyst, had a major role in advising Trump on the Republican tax cut bill, which the president signed in December.

Moore said he thinks Trump has his heart in the right place in regard to trade, and he agrees with the president that China is an adversary of the United States. But he added that Trump’s steel tariffs and proposed auto tariffs are “stupid,” as is picking fights with European allies over trade.

“Trump is playing a very dangerous game with trade,” Moore said.

The administration imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum on Canada, Mexico and the European Union in May, which led to retaliation. Moore noted Harley-Davidson’s recent announcement that retaliatory EU tariffs were leading the company to produce some of its motorcycles in Europe instead of the United States. 

The administration is also considering tariffs of up to 25 percent on automotive imports. Consumers could pay hundreds more for imported cars if those tariffs are implemented, automakers say.

Trump has threatened to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and Texas lawmakers are concerned about the status of the administration’s negotiationswith Canada and Mexico.

The Institute for Policy Innovation's president, Tom Giovanetti, said after the event that Trump’s presidency has been good for the Texas economy, but he echoed Moore’s concern about the administration’s trade policy, especially regarding NAFTA. He said if NAFTA is eroded in a significant way, Texas will suffer.

“I am concerned that Texas has more to lose from a threat to NAFTA than some other states do,” he said. “I think that a lot of the Texas political delegation are trying to make sure that the president understands that blowing off NAFTA isn’t something that can be done casually.”

Overall, though, Moore was upbeat in discussing the president and the economy, especially Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation efforts.

In his presentation, titled “Trumponomics: How and Why It’s Working,” Moore said that the heart of “Trumponomics” is growing the economy as rapidly as possible and that many of the major issues facing our country today — including poverty, the national debt, income inequality and education — will be easier to solve if the economy is growing faster.

Moore said he was “nervous” about the 2018 midterm elections, but he predicted that Trump would easily win re-election in 2020 if economic growth continues.

“If the economy is anywhere near as strong as it is today two years from now, he’s going to win 40 states,” Moore said. “It’s going to be a landslide.”