During a heated segment on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace challenged White House trade adviser Peter Navarro about President Donald Trump’s controversial plan to start a “trade war” by enacting tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.
Wallace observed that “the fact is” that Trump’s tariffs would raise prices for American consumers.
“If you took, not just cars, but all the products that use imported steel or important aluminum, we’re talking about a tax on American consumers in the billions of dollars,” Wallace said.
“When you’re talking about this massive cost is a fact, well, it’s not,” Navarro replied. “There are no downstream price effects on our industries that are significant.”
“Wait a minute,” Wallace interrupted. “If it’s $175 per car and there are 17 million cars sold, that is a $3 billion tax.”
“We disagree about how to do math here,” Navarro opined. “$175 on a car is a fraction of less than one percent.”
“If you add it up, we’re talking billions,” Wallace challenged. “You agree that it’s billions of dollars in cost?”
Navarro refused to give a straight answer.
Wallace, however, pressed on, noting that Trump was attempting to enact the tariffs by claiming a threat to national security.
“How can Canadian imports be a threat to national security?” he wondered. “Under law, the Canadian industrial base is considered part of our defense, the American defense industrial base.”
But Navarro dodged the question by reciting prepared talking points. But Wallace would not let him off the hook.
“Just to make it clear it’s a global imposition,” Wallace concluded. “The European Union say they have already assembled a package of tariffs, 25 percent tariffs on 3.5 billion of U.S. exports… Do you believe [the EU is] bluffing?”
“It would be helpful the media didn’t have all these crazy headlines about trade wars,” Navarro complained.
“Wait a minute, no, no,” Wallace interrupted. “Trade wars are good was a tweet from the president, Mr. Navarro. Would you agree [with Trump] that trade wars are good?”
“I’m going to finish this argument,” Navarro said, ignoring the question.
“Do you agree that trade wars are good?” Wallace asked again. “I’m asking you questions and I take objection to the idea that the talk of trade wars is an invention of the media when the president tweeted out, ‘Trade wars are good and easy to win.’”
“You guys are fanning the flames,” Navarro quipped.
“I’m fanning the flames?” the Fox News host exclaimed. “I’m not the one who wrote the president’s tweet.”
Watch the exchange below.