INTERVIEW: Steve Yates talks Romney op-ed, international trade in 2019

Steve Yates speaks with KID NewsRadio’s Neal Larson and Julie Mason during an interview on Wednesday, January 2

Listen to KID NewsRadio’s full interview with Steve Yates


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — As economists watch Wall Street waffle into the new year, industries are also keeping a close eye on the future of international trade policies in the Trump administration.

In 2018, the Trump administration created some waves in international trade by instituting tariffs on products across the world. While many have questioned the benefit a trade war would have for the United States, Steve Yates, former White House Deputy National Security Advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney, told KID NewsRadio he thinks the trade war will yield better returns for the nation than the harm it’s doing to some industries.

“I do believe that in the end this was a necessary course correction and we’ll be better off,” Yates said. “There’s always somewhat of unintended consequences or transaction costs when you have negotiations. The tariffs have hurt some industries in the United States, mostly in Ag. But, there also have been long term adjustments that have been necessary in changing supply chains.”

President Trump’s trade war, Yates added, is a simply larger scale example of the risks industries like agriculture already take. For example, in 2015 when labor unions closed dozens of West coast ports during a strike, Reuters reported the economy lost $2 billion a day.

“Our people in the free market, in the Ag community take risks,” Yates said. “Right now, I think they’re paying somewhat for those risks. I do think it will come out better in the end, but that’s easy for me to say. They’re the ones facing millions of dollars of losses this year.”

Looking ahead, Yates said he feels optimistic about the end result of the current trade war sparked by the Trump administration. While President Trump’s style may appear abrupt and unplanned, Yates said it looks like the president is simply doing what he’s done in business deals his whole life.

“I think Trump is someone who is likely to do a lot of back and forth on the negotiating path,” Yates said. ” Whatever his short term, his immediate reaction was or what he’s saying today isn’t necessarily where he aims to go. It’s part of how he’s gotten to where he is. It’s disruptive, but it puts people off their game and then he ends up, in some cases, getting a better deal for it. I think that’s what he’s trying to do with China.”

Trade wars and tariffs are hardly the top of the news cycle at the start of 2019 though. On Wednesday, January 2, newly elected Utah Senator Mitt Romney lobbed a Washington Post op-ed full of criticism at the president, questioning President Trump’s character and his actions while in office.

“His conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions last month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” Romney wrote in his Washington Post op-ed. “The world needs American leadership, and it is in America’s interest to provide it. A world led by authoritarian regimes is a world — and an America — with less prosperity, less freedom, less peace.”

Opinion | Mitt Romney: The president shapes the public character of the nation. Trump’s character falls short.

Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah and the party’s 2012 nominee for president, will be sworn into the U.S. Senate on Thursday. The Trump presidency made a deep descent in December.

President Trump took to Twitter to fire back at the incoming lawmaker, comparing Romney to outgoing Senator Jeff Flake.

“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast,” President Trump tweeted on Wednesday, January 2. “Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”

President Trump wasn’t the only one disappointed by Romney’s op-ed. Yates said the action could spell trouble for Utahans who overwhelmingly voted for Romney to replace retiring Senator Orrin Hatch.

“I think it was exceedingly bad form for any newly elected Republican who hasn’t even graced his office formerly in Washington to write in The Washington Post, of all places, some kind of screed about the president of his own party with whom he needs to work,” Yates said. “If he thinks he’s going to go to Washington and serve as a senator and make friends with the Democrats in the Senate in order to get things done, I’m afraid Utah voters have wasted six years of their time.”

Romney’s unprovoked criticism of President Trump, Yates said, seems to be in line with the current trends of bickering and complaining on social media and news outlets. Rather than complain about President Trump’s character, Yates said Romney would have been much better off starting his six-year term with actions instead of words.

“He did not need to publish anything,” Yates said. “There’s much, much greater credibility in going in and doing things than there is in proclamations. I think one of the greatest sicknesses of our politics in our time are people that feel like they can on social media or the media generally…just say things and just be critical of other people all the time.”

Yates said the practice of criticizing and complaining on social media and in the news media creates a culture of victims. Rather than become a victim of circumstances and actions of others, Yates said, people would be much better off becoming “owners of their time.”

“If you are one of these people, and we have some in Idaho, unfortunately, who spend everyday addicted to their device criticizing other people, then you are a victim,” Yates said. “I think it would be better off if you are an owner of your time, an owner of your responsibility, and go forward and talk about what are you going to do with the opportunities that you have. What are you going to do to build a coalition? What are you going to do to show the right way to get things done, because it is just so easy and cheap, and in my mind a waste of time to just join the flood of everyday psychological criticism and knee jerk reaction to everything.”

You can view KID NewsRadio’s extended edition interview with Steve Yates below:

KID Newsradio

Frequent Fox guest and former Idaho politician Steve Yates joins Neal and Julie