Despite his longstanding self-identification as a “free market conservative” and “free trader,” Tillis endorsed President Trump’s plan to impose economic tariffs on Mexico this morning during an interview on the Fox News program “America’s Newsroom.” In the interview, (click here to see the video) Tillis repeated Trump’s claim that it is necessary to impose tariffs on Mexican imports in order to pressure the Mexican government into “securing their border.”
The senator, who has previously appeared to differ with Trump over his positions on immigration, followed his statement on tariffs up with an extended recitation of his view of the situation on the U.S.-Mexican border — a situation that he characterized as “a threat to our homeland.”
By staking out such a position, Tillis has placed himself at odds with a wide array of conservatives, including several GOP senators and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber released a state-by-state report last week that featured its estimate of the economic impact of tariffs at various levels. The report said that North Carolina would suffer the eighth largest impact at between $384 million and more than $1.9 billion, depending upon the size of the tariffs.
In a statement that accompanied the report, a chamber spokesperson said the following:
“Imposing tariffs on goods from Mexico is exactly the wrong move. These tariffs will be paid by American families and businesses without doing a thing to solve the very real problems at the border. Instead, Congress and the president need to work together to address the serious problems at the border.”
[Note: Dr. Eric Mansfield, a member of the board of directors of Policy Watch’s parent organization, the N.C. Justice Center, is exploring a run for Tillis’ Senate seat in 2020.]