Bredesen calls Trump tariffs 'just like a new tax on Tennesseans'

Bredesen calls Trump tariffs 'just like a new tax on Tennesseans'

June 6th, 2018 by Andy Sher in Breaking News

This story was updated June 6, 2018, at 8:56 p.m. with more information.

POLL: Is President Trump right to impose trade tariffs?

NASHVILLE — Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Phil Bredesen on Wednesday called the effect of President Donald Trump's tariffs and the potential of new ones "just like a new tax on Tennesseans" and a move that will prove harmful to the state's economy.

"They will drive up prices, hurt our economy and will cost jobs, especially in our important automotive sector," the former governor said in a statement. "The retaliatory tariffs that are promised to follow will hurt our exports, damaging farmers and even hitting iconic Tennessee businesses like Jack Daniel's."

Also Wednesday, Republican U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, along with a bipartisan group of eight other senators, introduced legislation that would require Trump tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union under a national security provision in U.S. trade law to come before Congress for approval.

Trump is also weighing additional tariffs on imported vehicles and vehicle parts from the same close allies of the U.S.

In a video posted on Twitter on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said "your questions keep coming to me about trade and tariffs and how all this is going to shake out."

She said she spoke with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on the issue.

"Here's what we know - 18,000 exemptions have been asked for from the steel and aluminum tariffs. The Department of Commerce and the Trade Rep will begin reviewing those, probably next week. So some answers on those will be coming very soon and we will know more about what is being exempted out."

"So stay in touch with us," the congresswoman said. "Remember the goal is to punish the bad actors and to do no harm to the American consumer and the American job creator.

Earlier this week, Blackburn's congressional chief of staff, Charles Flint, said in a statement that "tariffs are intended to punish bad actors, not harm American consumers and manufacturers, but Congressman Blackburn is increasingly concerned these tariffs are a bad deal for Tennesseans."

Flint said that as Blackburn "has done since the beginning of these tariff negotiations, she continues to raise those concerns with Commerce Secretary Ross, the Trade Office, and other members of the administration. Manufacturing and agriculture are central to Tennessee's economy, and Congressman Blackburn is committed to ensuring continued growth and productivity that Tennesseans have experienced due to the President's tax cuts."

The European Union, meanwhile, announced it will start imposing duties beginning in July on a list of U.S. products in response to the president's decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum exports from Europe, the Associated Press reported. The EU in March said bourbon would be among products targeted.

Louisville-based WDRB-TV reported that executives with Louisville-headquartered Brown-Forman Corp., whose brands include iconic Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey, said the company is taking steps to mitigate bourbon and whiskey tariffs imposed in retaliation against the U.S. tariffs.

Brown-Forman Chief Financial Officer Jane Morreau told analysts during the Wednesday conference call held a day after Mexico enacted tariffs on some U.S. products, including bourbon, that it's "premature" to say what impact the levies could have on the firm's business. The company released its financial results on Wednesday for the three months ending in April, and for the previous year, reporting an increase in overall sales for both periods.

The European Union on Wednesday also announced it would start imposing duties on U.S. goods in July. While the list is still being finalized, the trading group said in March that bourbon was among the items targeted for tariffs.

Brown-Forman executives say they have increased inventory in some European countries where its distribution network is. But it hasn't started doing so in other countries, including Mexico, they said.

Contact Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.