VOL. 133 | NO. 128 | Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Bredesen Talks Tariffs in Memphis Stops As New TV, Social Media Ads Begin to Air
By Bill Dries
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen came to Memphis Monday, June 25, to talk about tariffs – specifically the trade tariffs proposed by President Donald Trump on European allies Canada and Mexico.
The meeting with leaders of start-up businesses at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation found some concern but not the level of concern Bredesen said he has encountered from the state’s auto industry and medical-device companies.
“What I heard was that they someday hoped to be big enough to care about that,” the former Tennessee governor told reporters after an hour-long session at the foundation’s offices. “If I speak to a group of farmers it is here and now and a big issue. People in the auto industry are really worried about it. It may not be here and now. It’s this fall and now. But it’s coming.”
Bredesen said he has heard concerns from the medical-device companies that are a significant part of the Memphis economy.
“A trade war helps nobody,” he said. “There are some issues. With China, for example, the lack of respect for intellectual property is a significant issue. … I have no objections with us trying to deal with those and trying to be tough about it. But that is a very focused kind of thing that needs a surgeon’s scalpel to take care of – not just take an ax and start chopping away at everything.”
Meanwhile, Bredesen began airing a new television ad and a longer social media ad that focus on tariffs. The television ad begins with Bredesen saying he agrees with Trump’s outreach to North Korea but adds, “I think these tariffs are going to hurt Tennessee and a trade war is going to hurt everybody.”
The social media ad features the founders of a Nashville distillery talking about the growth of their business and their hopes to take their product to other parts of the world.
“There’s a lot of issues internationally but maybe that won’t be one of them,” Bredesen tells them in the 60-second spot.
Bredesen and Republican contender U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn face only token opposition in the Aug. 2 statewide primaries for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Bob Corker. Bredesen and Blackburn are heavily favored to meet in the Nov. 6 general election.
Bredesen’s emphasis on the tariffs and their impact in Memphis in particular came the day after Corker appeared on CBS News’ “Face The Nation” and called the tariffs “a tax on America.”
“It’s absolutely an abuse of his authorities,” Corker said. “It’s being used against our European allies, Canada, Mexico and many other countries. It has successfully united the world against us.”
Bredesen said he initially believed Trump’s shifting terms for the tariffs were a bargaining tactic.
“I thought that might be the case early on, but I’m no longer sure about that,” he said Monday. “We export more to Canada than we import. And so I think now there’s more political theater and less calculation than I would have thought when it started.”
Blackburn has expressed concern about the tariffs and their impact on Tennessee businesses. Blackburn is campaigning on a theme of unity with Trump, including a recent campaign appearance by Trump in Nashville in support of Blackburn.
Bredesen has repeatedly said he isn’t campaigning against Trump.
Bredesen said Trump’s tax cuts were correct in cutting the marginal corporate rate.
“They decided at the end to do the easy thing which is cut the taxes and not do the hard thing which is reform the tax code,” he said Monday. “So you have a trillion and a half dollars plus or minus that’s been added to the national debt just with the stroke of a pen. I thought that was wrong. … A trillion and half dollars would fund everybody’s dream infrastructure program in the country and keep a lot of people working for a long time. Instead we have a tax cut that didn’t fix anything else in the tax code.”