Senator Lamar Alexander on Wednesday encouraged the Administration to reconsider the dangerous steps it is taking to impose tariffs on imported automobiles and automotive parts.
“Nothing has done more during the last 40 years to raise family incomes in Tennessee than the arrival of the auto industry, and nothing could do more to damage those family incomes than the proposed tariffs on imported automobiles and automotive parts, combined with the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that the administration has already imposed,” Senator Alexander said.
“In fact, Tennessee is likely to be hurt more than any other state by these tariffs.”
“When I walked across the state running for governor 40 years ago, there were very few auto jobs in Tennessee, the state was the third poorest state in family incomes, unemployment and inflation were high and prospects were bleak. Then in 1980, Nissan from Japan arrived in Rutherford County. Then General Motors with Saturn to Spring Hill and then Volkswagen to Chattanooga, all with large manufacturing plants. As the American automobile industry moved to the Southeastern United States, more than 900 auto parts suppliers located in 88 of our 95 counties. Today 136,000 Tennesseans, or one-third of our manufacturing workforce, work in those auto plants. These auto jobs have been the main driver of family incomes which now are at a little above the national average. Our economy is booming. Unemployment is at a record low.
“Tennessee produces 6.7% of all the cars and trucks made in the United States. Tennessee exported more than $5.5 billion worth of automobiles and automotive parts in 2017. Tennessee has been the top state in automotive manufacturing strength for five of the last eight years according to Business Facilities. You can see why Tennesseans become very worried when anything threatens the auto industry that has transformed our state.”
Senator Alexander said tariffs are taxes, “pure and simple,” and many Tennessee companies have already said they don’t want the tariffs because it will lower revenues and profits, which will mean fewer wage increases and jobs for Tennesseans, and the rest of the Southeastern United States – which has gained 3.6 million jobs since 1994 because of the auto industry. Alexander is working with Senator Doug Jones (D-Al.) to introduce legislation as soon as next week to encourage the Administration to reconsider imposing tariffs on imported automobiles and automotive parts.
“I agree with President Trump on many things: taxes, judges, regulations, the economy, the Keystone Pipeline – he’s helped create today’s booming economy and lower unemployment. These tariffs take us in exactly the opposite direction. These tariffs are dangerous, they are going to cost us jobs and lower our family incomes, and they will undo much of the good the president and Republican Congress have done to restore the economy. I’ve heard story after story, and it’s clear that tariffs will devastate Tennessee’s auto industry and the communities in our state. I respectfully suggest that the president reconsider his trade policy, drop the tariffs as a tool for implementing his objectives, and find other more effective ways to persuade other countries to do for us what we do for them.”
You can read the senator’s full prepared remarks here.