President Trump’s Rust Belt supporters might have to trade his promise to bring metalworkers’ jobs back for an upcharge on their Miller Lites. As part of his jobs plan, Trump signed an executive memorandum in April that could result in taxes on aluminum imports. In theory, it’d help bolster work in America’s metal industry, but the beer industry sees a different outcome, one that’s less ideal for America’s cans: “If there are duties on aluminum coming to this country, it will obviously get passed on to us and the customer,” MillerCoors global risk manager Tim Weiner said this week at an industry conference in Chicago. “Our prices,” he added, “will go up.”
An aluminum import duty would mean money out of roughly 5,000 domestic brewers’ pockets, Weiner explained. He said the likelihood of the U.S. actually imposing such duties “depends on whether it’s politically motivated, or business motivated.” Giving Trump’s blue-collar posturing lately, he said he believes “there’s political motivation for putting some tariffs on.” Roughly 60 percent of MillerCoors’ beer ends up in aluminum cans. “We don’t expect that to change,” Weiner told conference goers. “We’re giving our customers what they want, and what they want is cans.”
The real irony here is that if “Make America great again” actually refers to the cans that Budweiser rebranded “America” — which Trump shamelessly took credit for, and are back again this summer — then this is not solid policymaking at all.