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McConnell: Tariffs, Trade War Can Only Hurt United States Economy

Bill Rinehart
Senator Mitch McConnell talks about infrastructure, trade, the budget and court appointments before the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admits there is a debate within the Republican party over President Donald Trump's call for tariffs. Speaking before the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, McConnell says personally he falls squarely on the side of fair trade.

"I hope whatever saber rattling goes on here is not taken to such an extent that it kicks off some kind of trade war because I don't think that will be good for us," he said. "American agriculture in particular benefits enormously from trade."

McConnell says the U.S. will be okay because it's on good terms with most of the world. "The Chinese are always troublesome, extremely aggressive, good at stealing our intellectual property, but also occasionally helpful. It's a mixed picture. They're a great consumer of our agricultural products."

McConnell says tariffs are the only thing that can slow down the American economy's growth.


The senate majority leader says there's a lot of reluctance in Washington over talking about how to fund the president's infrastructure promises. Since Republicans and Democrats don't want to discuss the gas tax or tolls, he says infrastructure will be paid for "one bite at a time."

"In the bill the president signed a few days ago, there's $20 billion—$10 billion this year, $10 billion next year—that's far short of the kind of expansive transportation infrastructure plan he had in mind, but about as far as we can go unless and until we resolve the issue of, where do you get the money to pay for it?"

McConnell also says any decision on Kentucky's proposed eastern bypass route—and if that bypass should be built before a new Brent Spence Bridge—will come from Frankfort, not Washington.