Tariffs on newsprint are threatening the existence of community newspapers across the country. Thanks to the support of the Sisters community and our advertisers, The Nugget remains a healthy and vibrant publication - but we're not sheltered from national trends.

The vast majority of economists will tell you that protectionist policies and tariffs do far more harm than good. In a global economy - which the U.S. has operated in for well over a century - imposing tariffs merely triggers tit-for-tat retaliation. Protecting one industry often causes harm to others.

That's what's happening with tariffs on newsprint. In order to protect one paper mill in Longview, Washington, employing approximately 400 people, the Trump Administration has imposed tariffs on Canadian uncoated groundwood paper that threaten 600,000 jobs across a multitude of industries. NORPAC (the North Pacific Paper Co.) argues that it is unfairly impacted by uncoated groundwood paper subsidized by the Canadian government being sold below market value in the United States.

Addressing unfair trade practices - where they exist - is a laudable goal. But tariffs are a blunt instrument at best, and igniting trade wars with North American trading partners will hurt everyone in the end.

The Commerce Department will decide this summer whether to make the newsprint tariff permanent. Hopefully, once the full ramifications of the policy are understood, officials will dump it. And Congress may act to freeze the tariff while directing the Commerce Department to better assess its impact.

Some community newspapers are seeing printing costs increase by 20 to 30 percent. The Nugget, which prints in Bend at The Bulletin's facility, has seen a smaller increase than that - but there's no assurance that that line can be held.

If cost increases put newspapers and other publishers out of business, the paper industry as a whole will suffer a huge blow - which is why the rest of the industry doesn't support the tariffs.

As Republican Senator Susan Collins, a co-sponsor of the bill to suspend and reassess the tariffs noted, tariffs are "harming the industry they were intended to protect."

Hopefully, in an overheated political environment where ready, fire, aim seems to be the norm, cooler heads will take into account the broad and long-term effects of an ill-conceived action.

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief