LOUISVILLE — President Donald Trump may think trade wars are “good and easy to win,” but Sen. Mitch McConnell said they’d be disastrous for Kentucky.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Dec. 2, 2017
David R. Lutman, Special to Courier Journal
“I’m not a fan of tariffs, and I am nervous about what appears to be a growing trend in the administration to levy tariffs,” McConnell said. “This is a slippery slope, so my hope is that this will stop before it gets into a broader tit-for-tat that can’t be good for our country.”
The U.S. Senate majority leader spoke to farmers and business leaders Tuesday in Shelbyville, expressing his concern about the Trump’s rhetoric on trade wars and how they could harm their industry.
“Many of you are in agriculture, we are a great exporter of an agricultural product,” McConnell said. “I am nervous about getting into trade wars and I hope this doesn’t go too far.”
Early last month, Trump announced his intention to impose a 25 percent duty on steel and a 10 percent duty on aluminum imports.
The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in response that he would put tariffs on Harley-Davidsons, blue jeans and, most notably for McConnell’s home state, bourbon.
McConnell said that was a shot at him and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Some Harley-Davidson motorcycles are produced in Wisconsin, Ryan’s home state.
“It was the old rhetorical shot across the bow,” McConnell told Courier Journal. “He knows a little something about my state and a little something about (Paul) Ryan’s state.”
McConnell was recently honored by the Kentucky Distiller’s Association for his hardline stance against tariffs, which he said could harm the state’s economic powerhouse of bourbon distilling.
McConnell followed his gloomy thoughts on trade with some better news for Kentucky farmers.
Last week, McConnell announced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. He is hoping to remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances to provide “a new opportunity” for farmers to manufacture and grow the plant.
While narcotics detectives have fought the legalization of hemp since 2012 because it looks so much like marijuana, McConnell said the two plants are so different that it should seem reasonable.
“Hopefully we can pull that off,” McConnell said. “Some states have gone farther in the other direction, the ‘kissing cousin’ is legal in Colorado and Oregon. I’m hoping they’ll think this is pretty mild.”
Follow Thomas Novelly on Twitter: @TomNovelly
Copyright 2017 USATODAY.com