Since colonial days, Connecticut has been viewed as a trade state focusing on the export of nautical supplies, potash and lumber to Europe. In the Revolutionary War, Connecticut was nicknamed the “Provision State” for the quantities of food and military resources provided to the Continental Army hundreds of miles from our borders.
Today, Connecticut exports over $14 billion worth of goods to every part of the world, including transportation equipment, manufactured goods, electronic products and electrical equipment. The state’s major exporters include one of our premier companies, Pratt & Whitney, which employs more than 9,500 state residents with worldwide revenues topping $14 billion. Pratt’s commercial airplane engines currently power more than 25 percent of the world’s passenger aircraft fleet with customers in 160 countries.
I am deeply concerned that President Donald Trump’s recent actions imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico will begin a trade war, leading countries to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods such as the airplane engines Pratt produces and other products manufactured and exported from our state. At this moment, in support of international trade, Pratt, its sister company UTC Aerospace Systems and numerous small and midsize Connecticut aerospace companies are showcasing their wares to 200,000 visitors at the Farnborough International Air Show in England.
President Trump cites Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 as his authorization to impose restrictions on imports that threaten our national security. This is a dubious claim. For example, the top exporter of steel to the U.S. is Canada, which accounts for 16 percent of this import. To suggest that imported products from countries that have been our allies for decades, if not centuries, should be penalized for national security reasons is a clear abuse of the limited delegation of trade powers Congress has granted presidents.
Article I of the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall have Power … to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” Trump’s actions are a purely political move to advance his protectionist policies without concern for the thousands of workers, consumers and business that will be hurt.
As Attorney General I would not only sue the Trump Administration for abusing the statutory authority contained in Section 232, I would encourage my legal colleagues in other states to join the litigation. As the people’s lawyer, it would be my obligation to check the pretext of this abuse of power before it disrupts our state’s fragile economy.
Connecticut has recovered only 78 percent of the jobs lost in the Great Recession. We cannot afford to stand idly by while policies are pursued that would put a further drag on that recovery.
Paul Doyle, a Democrat, is running for State Attorney General.