President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement to impose tariffs on imports from Mexico, which sent financial markets reeling, has upset the usual order in Washington, D.C. Trump said late Thursday that the U.S. would impose escalating tariffs on its southern neighbor starting June 10, unless the country takes action to deter the flow of Central American migrants passing through its borders. The levies could hit 25% by October if Mexico fails to satisfy the White House’s demands.

Republican members of Congress from agricultural states were eager to have Congress take up the revised NAFTA agreement, now known as USMCA, but those hopes have been set back. There is real concern in some corners about the president's use of tariffs for policy not related to trade. The president again used his philosophy of surprise and unpredictability which he views as a key to his success.

These may be useful for reality television ratings, but many questions if they are the right tools to form public policy. Investors, business executives, farmers, and consumers rely on a certain level of policy predictability and this is seriously harmed when the president takes such action.

When Congress returns next week on June 4 from an extended Memorial Day holiday, legislators’ first order of...

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