In the 13th episode of Season 1 of the U.S. political drama West Wing, fictional Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman describes Friday as “take out the trash day,” explaining it is the day when the White House releases as many stories it does not like as it can, hoping they will be buried under the flood.
So when rumors began swirling last Friday, January 19 that President Donald J. Trump was planning to announce the tariff decision near the end of the day, and the trade media were obsessively refreshing the president’s Twitter feed, assuming he’d make the announcement there, as he does all major policy decisions, the chatter among industry insiders was that it would be good news.
The reasoning was that if it were an opportunity to make headlines about being tough on trade cheaters, it would be a East Room press conference with the entire assembled press corps, so if the decision was announced as an afterthought, the tariffs couldn’t be as tough as many feared (and some hoped).
In the end, the decision did not come, though a source familiar with the process told pv magazine the decision is complete and ready for announcement – but the planned reveal on Friday was overwhelmed by the government shutdown tidal wave of news.
“I have heard the proclamation is drafted,” the source said, requesting anonymity to be able to discuss the news freely. “From what we are hearing, the best guess is that the administration will announce it on Monday.”
Now that the government has in fact shut down, of course, all sure bets were off.
According to the source, details on the decision are sparse, but it appears each side will get something, and both sides will find things with which to disagree.
In broad outline, the decision will impose tariffs on cells and modules that will only kick in after quotas are met, though no details on the quotas were available at press time.
“We’re hearing the tariff percentages won’t be as large of a hit based on what the rumored percentages have been,” the source told pv magazine. “There will also be exemptions to the tariffs, though the details are still unknown.”
As more information becomes available, pv magazine will update this story.