Nobody should be surprised by President Donald Trump's call for tariffs on steel and aluminum, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Thursday, but he is still "waiting and seeing" how the measures will work and if they will specifically target China.
"I don't think any person should be surprised," Kennedy told Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "Before he was president talked about the trade imbalance. Whether you agree or not it's not something he just dreamed up."
Kennedy said he hopes Trump understands the real problem with imports is China, and "we need to call China's hand."
"China is eating our lunch and the sack it came in, but China cheats," Kennedy said. "The problem with steel prices started two years ago, really before that, and China produces half the world's steel. Rather than doing what a capitalist society would do, China kept going and started exporting their product and the price fell through the floor."
The details will have to be implemented within 15 days of Trump's formal announcement Thursday afternoon, giving countries such as Mexico and Canada time to step in and request exemptions, noted show co-host Sandra Smith.
"I think the president would be prudent to get tough with China," Kennedy stressed. "I'm going to say it again, no disrespect but China cheats and what you allow, will continue. I hope he won't punish our allies. He's right about there being a steel glut and that fact hurts our people but I don't want to punish the innocent along with the guilty."
Meanwhile, Kennedy said the impact of the tariffs has to be considered on not only the United States, but on other countries, including whether they will reciprocate.
"A tariff is really a tax," he said. "It will raise the price of steel from many people who use steel. Now, I'm not saying that's all together bad if those tariffs are targeted to try and change misbehavior. Again, I think the genesis of this problem is China, and that's where I hope the president targets his firepower."
Most of all, he said he would like to hear Trump say he believes in free trade, and the United States plays by the rules, and to declare "we've had enough — we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore and they're going to stop and we're going to put up a tariff."
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