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Politics and Government

Central NY congressional members, candidates react to latest Trump tariffs

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U.S. House of Representatives/Julio Urrutia
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Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), left, and Democrat Dana Balter

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) and his Democratic opponent Dana Balter are responding to President Donald Trump’s latest round of tariffs, including $200 billion on Chinese goods. Over the past year, reaction to the tariffs have been mixed across the region.

Katko said he agrees with Trump trying to do something.

“For generations we’ve been getting our teeth kicked in by unfair tariffs," Katko said. "I applaud him for trying to fix them. Now the question is, what’s the end game here?”

He said it seems like the end game is working out well with reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and possibly Canada.

“We can’t let this go on too long because it’s tough on the economy in the short term for some sectors," Katko said. "Other sectors like Nucor Steel in Auburn are doing just fine.”

Nucor supports tariffs on steel, because it allows them to compete with cheaper steel manufacturers from countries like China. Canada’s high tariffs and dairy pricing program have hurt businesses like Cayuga Milk Ingredients to the tune of $30 million. Katko said he thinks Canada overplayed their hand and the U.S. will get a better deal out of it.

"If we rework trade agreements and we can get better trade agreements, that's a really good thing," Katko said. "For far too long, we've had a huge trade deficit with the rest of the world. Part of it is because a lot of other countries are protecting against our products coming into their country. There are some countries where it is almost impossible for us to sell American cars, because tariffs are so high. It's ridiculous. We're trying to fix that."   

Balter, Katko’s Democratic challenger, said she is all for renegotiating unfair trade deals, but she said the new tariffs will cause prices to rise on everyday items and she said tariffs are already hurting central and western New York farmers. She said Katko’s refusal to stand up for local farmers and consumers is helping make America look erratic and weak in the eyes of the world.

Mohawk Valley Democratic congressional candidate Anthony Brindisi said President Donald Trump’s administration is right to take steps to counter China. But Brindisi said blanket tariffs are the wrong way to go and will likely raise prices on everyday products. He is challenging Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) who declined to comment on Trump’s recent tariffs during an event in Oswego County Tuesday.

Read Brindisi's full statement below.

"American businesses are hurting, and the administration is right to take steps to counter China. But blanket tariffs like this, which reports say will likely raise prices on everyday products for Americans, are the wrong way to go. Upstate New Yorkers are already suffering from higher healthcare premiums, higher gas prices, and a higher cost of living. The last thing we need is a tax increase that raises the price of goods people rely on. Instead, we should focus on targeted tariffs that bring China to the negotiating table without hurting middle class Americans."