Tennessee Rep. Diane Black said Friday she’s excited about the news that the nation’s unemployment rate has grown, while acknowledging that President Donald Trump’s call for added tariffs could hurt some of her state’s manufacturing industry.
“I’ve been in Congress the last eight years, and we were really happy to see the 2 percent GDP growth…to see where we’re going now and 4 percent GDP growth, it is very exciting,” the Republican lawmaker, who is campaigning for her state’s governor’s seat, told Fox News’ Leland Vittert on “America’s Newsroom.”
She added that she’s hearing all over her state that job creators are looking for more employees, and for solutions to ensure there is an educated workforce.
“This is a good problem to have, and one that we can certainly find solutions for,” she said. “Putting people back to work is great.”
Vittert pointed out that Republicans and the president are claiming that a crackdown is needed on immigration because immigrants take jobs away from Americans. Black responded that she learned as a congresswoman that both the unemployment rate and workplace participation rates must be considered.
“When you have a third of the people out of the workplace you have to take a look at that and say perhaps what we need to do is look at our policies that we did in our last farm bill,” said Black. “If you are an able-bodied person you should be working. We need you and you need to have dignity of life and working.”
Her attention was then called to a map showing that every county in her state was hurt more by tariffs than helped. Further, Vittert told her that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the Republican Black is challenging, has said he’s concerned about items exported from Tennessee, particularly with the whiskey industry.
“I share them,” she said about Haslam’s concerns. “This president has been saying he will address our deficit in our trade. It is a half a trillion dollars every year. That’s a lot of money for the United States to give away. He is a tough negotiator. I stuck with the president, giving him the space to be able to negotiate.”
However, Black said, she’s a Tennessean, and she’ll let Trump and his administration know how the tariffs are affecting “some of the great things happening in Tennessee with automobile manufacturing. We have a lot. I was with Nissan.”
But there is a balancing act, she conceded, and she’s still giving Trump “a little latitude.”
“I know in negotiations that when you are a tough negotiator, you push it all the way to the end, said Black. “You push it as far as you possibly can and yet at the same time as I’ve said before, I am from Tennessee and I will stand up and tell the president this is hurting our state.”
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