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CNBC

Appearing on CNBC's Squawk on the Street Friday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross defended the steel and aluminum tariffs he helped promote and dismissed their price consequences as "broad," but "trivial."

Highlights:

  • Holding up a can of Campbell's soup, Ross argued that "there are about 2.6 pennies worth of steel. So if that goes up by 25 percent, that's about six-tenths of one cent on the price on a can of Campbell Soup...All this hysteria is a lot to do about nothing."
  • Why tariffs are needed: "The reason we've had to go this route is because the conventional trade methods don't solve the problem of global overcapacity and global dumping. You put a tariff on it coming from one country, they try to ship it through another one. It has to be broad, it has to be global in its reach in order to solve the fundamental problem."
  • Fears of retaliation: "I think this is scare tactics by the people who want the status quo, the people who have given away jobs in this country, who have left us with an enormous trade deficit, and one that's growing. It grew again last year, and if we don't do something, it will keep growing and keep destroying American jobs."

Go deeper

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Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden has arrived at the White House and he will sign executive orders and other presidential actions.

40 mins ago - Podcasts

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Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.