House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy declined on Monday to support President-elect Donald Trump's proposal to impose a 35% tariff on companies that leave the US.
The California Republican was responding to a series of tweets from Trump over the weekend outlining his plan to impose a large tariff against companies that ship jobs overseas. The tariff would be imposed on the goods shipped back into the US.
Speaking to reporters, McCarthy warned that it would lead to a trade war.
"I don’t want to get into some type of trade war," McCarthy said.
McCarthy, the No. 2 Republican in House leadership following House Speaker Paul Ryan, said he would not commit to bringing that tariff proposal to the House floor for a vote, adding the Republican Party's efforts at tax reform would create an improved business environment and would render such a tariff unnecessary.
"I think there are other ways to achieve what the president-elect is talking about," McCarthy said, "but the only way you can do any of this is you’ve got to do tax reform. And that’s why I think that will be a cornerstone of what we do."
"Tax cuts and deregulation will make the American economy great again, but tariffs and trade wars will make it tank again," he continued.
McCarthy was also pressed about the deal to provide $7 million in incentives to Carrier over 10 years in order to keep roughly 1,000 jobs in Indiana, a deal that has been criticized by many free-marker conservatives such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
"Do you want to know my philosophical belief?" McCarthy said. "I believe in the free market. I don’t think government should be picking winners and losers."
He cautioned reporters against judging what Trump will do ahead of taking office.
"Take a deep breath," he said. "He’s not sworn in yet. I know you gotta write news, but let’s not predetermine what the outcome is yet. ... Is he president of the United States right now? So what did he give them? He has no authority yet to give them anything."
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