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Paul Ryan Talks Tariffs At Georgetown Toyota Facility

Josh James

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan told a crowd at Toyota Tsusho in Georgetown that he's not "a fan" of tariffs, but the controversial border duties charged on imported goods have drawn countries to the negotiating table. 

After brief remarks touting the GOP tax cuts as an engine for economic growth, the Wisconsin lawmaker answered a handful of questions from the audience at the private event, including one on the Trump administration's favored trade tactic.

The top executive at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Susan Elkington, wrote back in July that erecting trade barriers would drive up product costs and lead to higher prices for consumers. Ryan expressed reservations about the strategy but credited them with jumpstarting talks with North American, European, and Japanese partners.

"I wasn't a fan of tariffs. I still am not. That got these people to the table," he said. "So it has succeeded in getting our allies to come back to the table and get new agreements with America that are preferential for us." 

Those newly-brokered deals, the speaker explained, will pave the way for the U.S. and its trading partners to address a larger challenge to the east. 

"The whole idea behind that is... get these better agreements for the 21st century with our allies and then unify our allies in the industrialized world to go confront and deal with China," Ryan said. 

Questioners also quizzed the speaker and Barr about medical marijuana and school safety. 

Prior to the appearance, the Kentucky Democratic Party released a statement taking aim at Ryan’s political action committee, the Congressional Leadership Fund, which the party charged with releasing “inflammatory and racially charged” political ads during the current election cycle.

Ryan joins a growing list of political heavy hitters – among them President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden – who have made the trip to Kentucky to stump in the hotly-contested 6th district contest.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.