“America First” was the cornerstone of President Trump’s campaign, and remains at the core of his trade policy today. Unfortunately, not all of the president’s closest advisors support America First principles, and are even working to actively undermine them.
Gary Cohn, the current Director of the National Economic Council and former Goldman Sachs banker, is chief among these individuals.
Leading up to the July 2017 G-20 summit, Cohn reportedly pushed Trump to refrain from placing tariffs on steel and other goods, a position directly at odds with Trump’s America First agenda. “I think the president is pretty clear on what he wants. It’s the staff that is on different pages,” one senior administration aide told Politico.
As recently as Tuesday, Trump reaffirmed his position on implementing tariffs in key areas to lawmakers at the White House.
“They are dumping and destroying our industries,” Trump stated, adding that, “You may have a higher price, but you have jobs.” The president also cited national defense as a key reason for want to implement tariffs.
“I want to keep prices down, but I also want to make sure that we have a steel industry and an aluminum industry, and we do need that for national defense,” Trump proclaimed.
Cohn’s assessment of the coal industry represents another battlefield where he and the president differ. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump repeatedly expressed he wished to save the industry.
In a May 2016 speech, Trump reaffirmed coal miners crushed by burdensome regulations, stating, “For those miners, get ready because you’re going to be working you’re asses off.” Trump even bolstered clean coal technology in February by including a tax credit for carbon capture projects.
However, in May 2017, Cohn painted an entirely different picture of the coal industry, reportedly stating, “Coal doesn’t even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock,” while aboard Air Force One.
Cohn’s view on coal stands in stark contrast to the president’s America First agenda, and even prompted false speculation of a shift in Trump’s energy and environmental policies, effectively undermining him in the press.
Not only has Cohn routinely undermined the president’s policies—he’s also been directly insubordinate, criticizing the president’s reaction to the Charlottesville controversy and allegedly faking bad reception to end a phone call with Trump during tax reform negotiations.
Moreover, Cohn is a registered Democrat, and clearly can’t identify with American workers. On almost all of the president’s major trade policy decisions, such as washing machine and steel tariffs and NAFTA negotiations. In fact, Cohn blocked two separate attempts to withdraw from NAFTA.
Now is the time for President Trump to stand up to the global elitists and keep his America First promise. He should continue to implement trade policies that protect American workers and corporations, consistent with his America First agenda.
By standing with the millions of hard working Americans that voted him into office, the president can bring about real change and Make America Great Again.