The Trump administration once again touts its plans to impose tariffs on “foreign” automobiles and auto parts — and once again, American car companies publicly warn that the move would backfire on U.S. consumers and the auto industry itself.

The U.S. Commerce Department, at the urging of President Donald Trump, is studying whether automotive imports pose a threat to national security, with U.S. tariffs the possible response. Trump said last month that tariffs would make a strong weapon to bring foreign automakers to heel.

U.S. automakers sent the Commerce Department a letter June 29 opposing the tariffs.

In the letter, Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, stated: “Despite the U.S. government’s good intentions, America’s automakers strongly believe any increase in automotive tariffs on passenger cars, light trucks and automotive parts will undermine the enormous economic contributions the U.S. auto sector makes to our economy and could interfere with the ongoing success of American automakers.”

The council represents Ford, GM and Fiat- Chrysler.

Slapping a 25 percent tariff on autos and auto parts, on top of the administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and tariffs on certain Chinese imports, would increase the costs on the U.S. auto sector by more than $90 billion a year, the letter said.

“Imposing tariffs,” the letter concluded, “will increase costs for consumers, lessen consumer choice, lower consumer demand, reduce car and light truck production and sales, lower investment levels and lead to job losses in the U.S. auto sector.”

How strange and arrogant it is that the administration thinks it knows better than American automakers themselves how best to promote the interests of the U.S. auto sector.

The administration needs to step back from its economic provocations and heed the sensible warning from these companies.

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