Biden says his steel tariffs totally different from Trump’s, speculates uncle was eaten by cannibals

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President Joe Biden vowed Wednesday that he would get tough on China’s steel dumping by tripling tariffs on imports. He argued this was totally different from his predecessor’s support for tariffs on steel imports, which would be devastating for Americans.

That was before his speech wandered off to other subjects, including how his uncle was probably eaten by cannibals in New Guinea.

Blue Collar Joe” Biden made these comments during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh with United Steelworkers members. The president spoke for a brisk 20 minutes. He tried to bolster his standing with union voters by touting his opposition to Nippon Steel purchasing U.S. Steel.

Biden promised that if an investigation by the Office of the Trade Representative proves that China is dumping steel and aluminum, then he will call for new tariffs on imports. Biden seemed certain that that was the conclusion the office would eventually reach. He claimed, for instance, that China circumvented the rules by moving goods through other countries like Mexico.

“They’re not competing. They’re cheating,” the president declared.

President Donald Trump was similarly strident in his criticism of Chinese imports and enacted tariffs as well. Biden argued that that was totally different from what he was doing.

“My predecessor and the MAGA Republicans want across the board tariffs on imports from all countries,” he said. “That could badly hurt American consumers. That could cost the average American family an average of $15,000 a year.”

Exactly how tariffs meant intended to prevent China from routing steel imports through countries like Mexico differed from the Trump tariffs on all imported steel was not a subject Biden delved into. Both would, logically, have to apply broadly to steel imports from multiple countries to counter China’s alleged strategy of overproduction.

Nor did Biden reflect on how tariffs on imports would impact many domestic industries such as auto manufacturing, construction, and household wares that rely on raw steel. Forcing up the price will undermine their competitiveness. Many more workers stand to lose if that happens. The domestic steel sector employs an estimated 131,000 workers. The manufacturing sector overall employs an estimated 12.7 million workers.

Biden closed the remarks by reminiscing about his Uncle Ambrose, who enlisted in World War II. In the president’s retelling, (start at about 23:14 here) things likely took a macabre turn.

“He flew single-engine planes as reconnaissance over war zones,” Bidne said. “He got shot down in New Guinea. They never found the body because there used to be a lot of cannibals, for real, in that part of New Guinea.”

Biden alleged Trump didn’t respect the sacrifice of veterans like Uncle Ambrose and therefore didn’t deserve to be commander-in-chief. With that, he bid the steelworkers adieu.