Trump’s trade war could destabilize the U.S. economy, Pa. Sen. Pat Toomey warns | Tuesday Morning Coffee

September 3, 2019 7:01 am

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on ABC’s ‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos’ (Screen Capture)

(*This post has been updated to correct the identity of Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Welcome to the first day of this abbreviated (for some) working week. We’re going to begin it by dispensing with a bit of old business that nonetheless feels like it will have continuing currency as President Donald Trump’s trade war with China lurches unpredictably forward.

During an appearance on ABC News’ Sunday gabfest ‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos,’ U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., warned that the White House’s ongoing spat with the world’s other largest economy could further upend an American economy that some fear might be teetering toward recession.

“We’ve got a great economy, but I do think that the uncertainty caused by the volatile tariff situation and this developing trade war could jeopardize that strength and that growth,” Toomey, who’s generally been a critic of the White House’s trade strategy, told anchor Martha Raddatz.

More from ABC News:

Toomey said that while he gives Trump credit for challenging China on some of its trade practices with the U.S., China has not meaningfully changed its behavior. And, because China continues to be a significant part of the American supply chain, tariffs hurt manufacturers at home.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “I would have preferred a different set of tactics.”

Earlier this year, Toomey teamed with *U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., on legislation that would require the White House to obtain Congressional authorization before it could impose tariffs based on the grounds of national security — which was the White House’s justification for punitive tariffs on imports from Canada and China. That bill lost its urgency with the revised NAFTA 2.0, which still awaits approval from Congress.

(Image via

As we noted last week, Pennsylvania has already been feeling the pinch, to the tune of about $816 million through June from the White House’s trade strategy.

That data comes from a group calling itself “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland,” a wide-ranging coalition of agriculture commodity groups and trade associations opposed to an economic strategy that they view as a tax on consumers and business.

“Since the trade war began, Pennsylvania exports have faced $458 million in new retaliatory tariffs from our trading partners, including $44 million in June,” the group said in an email blast to political reporters.

Speaking to ABC News, one Pennsylvania business owner told Raddatz he expects to have to pass his costs along to consumers because of the trade war.

“The consumer … will see bigger dollars spent or you’ll forego a T-shirt, a cap, another item they want to purchase with it,” Greg Baldwin, vice president of merchandising at a Pennsylvania sporting goods store, told ABC News. “They’ll have to make choices. But the consumer will absorb it.”

Meanwhile, recent polling data indicates that Americans have tired of the administration’s ongoing trade war with China, among other nations, the longer it’s lasted.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say they support free trade with foreign countries, according to an Aug. 18 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. That result is an all-time high, representing a 7-percentage point leap since the last time that question was asked in 2017, NBC News reported.

That could come home to bite Trump in Pennsylvania, where he beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by just 44,000 votes in 2016. On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that the Keystone State will be just one of four states that will determine the 2020 race.

If Pennsylvanians are still feeling the pinch in their wallets by then, and the U.S. is facing a recession, Trump might no longer be able to count on the Rust Belt to deliver him a second term.

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
Stephen Caruso
 catches up with state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia, who’s seeking co-sponsors for a bill providing reparations to black Pennsylvanians for not only slavery, but the intervening decades of institutional racism engendered by it.

Our Washington Bureau Chief, Robin Bravender, looks at the lay of the land on Capitol Hill as Congress gears up for votes on gun-control legislation in the coming weeks. In 1993, four Pennsylvania Republicans voted in favor of landmark gun control legislation. Now there’s just one ‘Yes’ vote among the state’s Republican lawmakers. And that math matters.

In case you missed it, Sarah Anne Hughes discovered that more states are allowing candidates to spend their campaign cash on childcare. What about Pa? Read on to find out.

And Elizabeth Hardison scooped big on Friday, reporting that officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections are suspending referrals and reviewing contracts as they get ready to rein in spending on reentry services for returning inmates.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Mark O’Keefe looks at the turnaround at still-struggling Cheyney University, and says it could be a model for other State System schoolsDick Polman says Republicans shouldn’t count out President Donald Trump’s GOP primary challengers. And when religious ideology drives abortion policy, poor women end up losing out, a SUNY-Buffalo scholar argues.

Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia (Image via Flickr Commons)

Hahnemann Hospital
 has an important appointment with a judge on Wednesday. The Inquirer has the details.
The Post-Gazette explains how making ‘gun-like’ hand gestures can now have big-time legal ramifications.
PennLive sat down to chat with Millersville University President Daniel Wubah about his first year at the helm.
Police in suburban Allentown are investigating after a toddler suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Morning Call reports.
Police in Penn Hills are still searching for a 2-year-old girl who was allegedly abducted over the holiday weekend, the Tribune-Review reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM explains why it was a ‘dark’ Labor Day for unemployed union workers in Philadelphia.
Pa. officials are stressing the importance of a complete 2020 Census, the PA Post reports.
An Erie restaurant is facing U.S. Labor Department scrutiny over how it paid its workers, the Times-News reports.
A University of Scranton task force is tackling abuse in the Catholic church, the Times-Tribune reports.
PoliticsPA has last week’s winners and losers in Pennsylvania politics. explains how climate change is affecting affordable housing stocks.
Politico profiles America, the aged.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told Fox News that America doesn’t need more gun laws, it needs Christianity in the ‘public square,‘ Talking Points Memo reports.

Gov. Tom Wolf
 joins officials from the Pa. Dept. of Human Services for a 1 p.m. newser in the Rotunda kicking off ‘Hunger Action Month‘ in Pennsylvania.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to our former PennLive colleague, Sean Sauro, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an old favorite by Paul Oakenfold that popped up quite unexpectedly over the long weekend. It’s ‘Starry Eyed Surprise.’ The mother of all throwbacks, this.

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
dropped one, 5-4, to Tampa on Monday. Time to just play out the schedule and hope for the best.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.