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(CNN) - President Donald Trump defended his business strategy this Thursday morning, rejecting comments from Republican senators who have raised their fears about the economic effects of the administration's growing commercial war with China.
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, an open critic of Trump's tariffs, told Politico in a story published Thursday that "there is no doubt" that the president's trade war is affecting the economy. Other trade-friendly Republicans, including Ohio Senator Rob Portman and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, shared similar concerns about the White House approach.
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Trump responded to the story in an interview with Fox News Radio on Thursday.
“So what does Pat Toomey want me to do? Do you want me to tell you to allow me to raise my hands and for China to continue cheating us? ”Trump asked. He also said during the interview that talks with China will continue later Thursday.
"I think they want to reach an agreement," Trump said. "I think they have to come to an agreement."
The concerns of Senate Republicans about the real economic effects of Trump's tariffs and his ongoing trade war are rising, but these fears are not new. The key dynamic remains the same, and to some extent it also affects Democrats in Congress: most lawmakers really don't want to openly challenge Trump's trade war, because they agree with the administration’s concerns about practices China's unfair trade, especially intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers see China differently from Trump's other commercial struggles, such as steel and aluminum tariffs imposed last year and their disputes with the European Union. Although the Trump administration is preparing to impose new tariffs on products from China next week, Republicans in the Senate are unlikely to take significant steps to delay the strategy, through legislation or otherwise.
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There will be brows and concerns raised by those with a more traditional ideological inclination of the Republican Party, such as Toomey and Johnson, but that's it. There is no tangible move towards something else to respond to the administration's commercial war with China at this time, and Trump knows it.
Many Republicans are in the same group as Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is concerned about the economic impact and the broader strategy behind Trump's trade war, but does not seek to give the president a real reprimand while seeking an agreement with China.
“Do I like tariffs as a policy on a given day? No. What other alternatives do you have to rebalance what has been 30 years of deceit, lie, robbery and injustice on behalf of the Chinese? ”Rubio told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday.
To demonstrate the thinking of the party, let's look at the other Florida senator, Republican Rick Scott. Scott tweeted last week that he had spoken with Trump's chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, about a proposal to approve a tax reduction for middle-class Americans that would be proportional to the amount the Trump administration has raised in tariffs.
"When we return from recess, we should start working immediately on a plan to reduce taxes for middle-class families and workers in the amount that the Treasury is collecting in tariffs," Scott wrote.
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It would be an indirect way of trying to solve the problem, and the argument that tariff revenues would compensate for new tax cuts is questionable considering that Trump has already spent more on helping farmers during the trade war than the Treasury Department has collected in tariffs. But Kudlow has confirmed that he supports the idea.
It's unclear if Republicans in other places in the White House or in the Capitol are taking it seriously. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has not discussed the plan with the administration during the August recess, a spokesman told CNN on Wednesday. But Scott's effort shows that some Republican lawmakers are looking for ways to boost the economy without directly addressing the cause of some instability: Trump's trade war.
If Senate Republicans take steps to reverse any of Trump's commercial powers, it would be on a separate issue from China: National Security tariffs. Trump used Section 232 of the Commercial Expansion Act to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports last year, and he may be able to apply tariffs under the same justification for European cars in November.
Grassley has discussed the progress of a bill in the Finance Committee to reduce Trump's authority to wield national security tariffs, but Senate Republicans have struggled for months to find a compromise between two bipartisan bills introduced by Toomey of Pennsylvania, which supports the book trade, and Portman, who served as the United States trade representative under President George W. Bush.
In late July, Grassley told CNN that he hoped to pass legislation to limit the authorities in Section 232 after Congress returns from the August recess.
"I want to get it afloat, either because of a compromise, and a motion of the president, which I hope is bipartisan, or else we will have to go through a regular order and let something develop and get whatever comes out," he said. Grassley. "But I promise people that we will do something in the tariff reform, and that we will do something this fall: September or October."