The House

Tariffs: National security consideration or money grab?

A trade deal may have been reached between the three North American countries, but tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum remain — and so do the retaliatory duties on American products. Why? Kentucky's governor says it's a cash grab by the Canadian government.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin at his swearing-in ceremony on Dec. 8, 2015. The Republican politician spoke about tariffs with host Chris Hall. (Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press)
Listen9:24

A trade deal may have been reached between the three North American countries, but tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum remain — and so do the retaliatory duties on American products. 

Why? Kentucky's governor says it's a cash grab by the Canadian government. 

"People can say it was for tit-for-tat, and maybe arguably so, but it's a straight up money grab," Matt Bevin said.

The governor expanded on his theory, saying the Trudeau Liberals have realized Canadians like Kentucky bourbon, and have used it to raise money. 

For Bevin, there are only two rationales for tariffs: national security and raising funds.

After President Donald Trump introduced duties at the beginning of the summer, Canada responded in kind with equal dollar-for-dollar tariffs, targeting very specific U.S. products. Included in that list of affected items are bourbon and playing cards, both an integral part of Kentucky's economy. 

The goal of those tariffs, according to Ottawa, was to protest Trump's duties and their national security justification. 

Canadian negotiators managed to secure an effective exemption from auto tariffs, but the ones on steel and aluminum remain. 

Despite that, Bevin says the new USMCA is still a win-win-win. 

"Any time there's a negotiation of any kind, nobody ever gets everything they wanted."

The governor says he has regular communication with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other members of his cabinet. 

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin talks trade and midterms. 9:24