Billionaire Charles Koch has come out against President Donald Trump’s planned tariffs on aluminum and steel in an op-ed published in The Washington Post Wednesday night.
Koch, whose company Koch Industries is the second largest privately held company in the U.S. wrote that tariffs will hurt the U.S. economy and called the move “short-term thinking.”
“Tariffs will not add thousands of American jobs,” Koch wrote. “Instead, the research shows that, while they preserve some jobs that would otherwise disappear, they reduce many other higher productivity jobs. The net effect will be not more jobs, but lower overall productivity. They also reduce choice, competition, innovation and opportunity.”
Trump has suggested imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent aluminum tariff. Details of the plan have not yet been hammered out and may include exemptions for Canada and Mexico. Trump announced on Twitter there would be a meeting Thursday regarding the tariffs.
Peter Navarro, the director of the White House’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, told Fox Business on Wednesday night that Trump would be signing a tariff proclamation Thursday.
The White House press office told Newsweek they were working on guidance regarding what the meeting would entail.
Koch Industries, a multinational conglomerate based in Kansas, pulls in billions of dollars in profits annually, which includes working in the American steel industry. Koch wrote that tariffs in the past, including those on steel, had largely failed.
“History is filled with examples of administrations that have implemented trade restrictions with devastating results,” opined Koch. “President George W. Bush’s 30 percent steel tariff led to increased consumer costs and higher unemployment.”
Koch, a Republican megadonor, has had a tenuous relationship with the president. Koch and his brother David, with whom he runs the family company, decided not to support Trump in the election. The brothers did, however, applaud Trump’s tax cut passing late last year.
Koch worries that the progress he feels the tax cuts made might be erased by the tariffs.
“Without a doubt, those who can least afford it will be harmed the most. Having just helped consumers keep more of their money by passing tax reform, it makes little sense to take it away via higher costs,” wrote Koch. “Tariffs will only perpetuate the rigged system that threatens the very core of our society.”