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Presidential pork goes off

FEE reports President Bush’s steel tariff has had the unintended consequences most of us expected. According to the Washington post article Steel Tariffs Are a Net Job Killer, 9/19/03:

In a decision largely driven by his political advisers, President Bush set aside his free-trade principles last year and imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel to help out struggling mills in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, two states crucial for his reelection. Eighteen months later, key administration officials have concluded that Bush’s order has turned into a debacle. Some economists say the tariffs may have cost more jobs than they saved, by driving up costs for automakers and other steel users.

It’s not just those uppity complaining fur’ners the EU is starving who get hurt. Protective tariffs harm everyone.

6 comments to Presidential pork goes off

  • I read somewhere (Businessweek, I think) that for ever steel job we saved we lost two manufacturing jobs. I still can’t believe Bush did this, when the conservatives are supposed to be the party of free trade.

  • It did cost more jobs than there are in the whole American steel industry.

    Btw, the EU isn’t starving the people in poor countries, the governments of those countries áre. If they didn’t have all kind of socialist policies (the kind that picks one crop like cotton or cofee and stakes the country’s future on that alone), mess around with their farmers and would start to guarantee the property rights of their citizens to encourage higher production nobody would have to starve.

    There’s also a flipside to those export-subsidies: If the EU didn’t pay to make its farmers’s exports cheaper than the price on the wolrd market, a lot less people in poor countries could afford to buy as much food as they do now. I’m all against the subsidies, but they don’t cause the misery in Zimbabwe, Somalia etc.

  • Julian Morrison

    “Subsidygives the poor cut-price food” – well yes, but would the food have been so expensive to begin with, if subsidies weren’t propping up inefficient producers, blocking out innovators, and draining away infrastructure investment money? And would there have been so many poor to need cheap feeding, without so many unnecessary barriers in the world’s economy?

  • Abby

    If GWB wants to win Pennsylvania in 2004 he should skip the tariffs and get the god damn power back on. (Turns out my power company is owned by First Energy of “North American Blackout of 2003” fame). My house still doesn’t have power or telephone service — that’s been the state of things since Isabel hit on Thursday.

    A large tree blocked the entrance to our neighborhood until Friday night when my brauny chainsaw-wielding neighbor came home and made sawdust out of it. Too bad he’s not running …

  • Katherine

    “Some economists say the tariffs may have cost more jobs than they saved, by driving up costs for automakers and other steel users.”

    That this was going to happen was as plain as a nose to anyone with basic understanding how the economy works, and lots of people (mostly libertarians and conservatives) were blasting Bush for it, including the Dread Rush. Even the White House must have known. So why did they do it? They were simply buying votes.

    If the administration is admitting now that they may have made a mistake there is a chance that they are gearing toward repealing those tariffs, which were supposed to be temporary 3 year gig anyway. In politics everything is about politics. Economic decisions are made only inasmuch they buy votes.

  • “President Bush set aside his free-trade principles last year …”

    Doesn’t that imply that he had some?