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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

TNR Misses the Point on Steel Tariffs

Posted by DavidNYC

TNR's "&c." blog makes what I think is a crucial misjudgment regarding the next phase of the fight over steel tariffs. Noam Scheiber (or whoever actually writes that blog) says that yesterday's final WTO ruling was a good thing for the administration. Bush gets to play up the fact that he tried to help the steel industry as best he could, but, poor dear, he was ultimately thwarted by "those faceless, bloodless, soulless, pointy-headed bureaucrats at the WTO [who] just wouldn't let him have his way."

Just like how Bush didn't go to war in Iraq because the UN said "no", right, fellas?

TNR goes on, in a parenthetical:

Granted, the administration could easily defy the WTO ruling if it really wanted to. But don't expect to hear about that option from anyone at the White House.

Sure, Karl Rove may not start barking up this tree. But do you really think that steel workers (who certainly have no love for the World Trade Organization) and steel mill owners will just philosophically resign themselves to a defeat at the hands of the WTO? Jeez, that would mean caving to the French, mon dieu! I can easily see both of these groups clamoring for Bush to tell the WTO to go shove it - which of course Bush can't do, unless he wants a trade war on his hands.

Rove may have some rabbits up his sleeves - he often does. He may come up with some new clever way to mollify the steel industry (targeted tax breaks, maybe?). Or Bush may just try to impose a slightly different set of tariffs, forcing the EU & Co. back to square one at the WTO. (I admit I have no idea if this tactic is viable - there may be some sort of res judicata principle at work here.) But I don't expect the steel industry to quietly swallow this latest development. No - these guys are going to get angry.

Posted at 08:56 PM in Economy | Technorati


ok, this is what I was trying to figure out in the other thread. I think I came to the conclusion (or rather someone else held my hand on the way there) that the WTO decision in and of itself won't hurt Bush (with the steel industry) because he did do what the steel industry wanted.

But that leaves open the issue of what BUsh does next. He has to do something. "No Action" (to borrow a NEPA context) would be a potentially disasterous trade war with Europe. May not hurt the steel vote but probably will hurt others. This would also involve thumbing it at the WTO. Hey, I'm ok with that. But that would simply raise international ire one more notch in general (even outside of the EU).

So, there is as you say some sort of tweaking of the tarriffs. I don't know the inside workings of the WTO but I doubt this would go over well. I doubt it would prevent the EU from retaliation (unless it was some sort of serious reform that gave the EU a lot of what it wanted somehow). Res judicata aside, I doubt this is an easy option. Of course even the impression of a lame but clever attempt to evade the WTO could win BUsh the steel vote.

There has been discussion of withdrawing the tariffs. This is very possible, but boy would Bush look weak before the WTO. Forget about the steel vote buddy. I'm sure there is a twist here that Bush could pull, such as withdrawing the tariff without giving the impression that its been withdrawn, but it would be akin to walking a fine line.

So I end up right where you are David. So much for my analysis.

Posted by: Seamus at November 11, 2003 10:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

check out what Calpundit reports on this


Posted by: Seamus at November 12, 2003 03:01 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Over at my blog I have a very brief electoral analysis on the effects of this ruling. My basic guess is not much. SW PA is getting better organized by the Democrats and if the EU does retaliate against the motorcylce plant in York (more the central part of the state) then the job delta will be about the same.

The interesting thing is that by continuing this protect steel production strategy, Rove is acknowledging that Michigan is out of reach in a tight contest. Interesting.

Posted by: fester at November 12, 2003 04:07 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

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Posted by: propecia at October 12, 2004 03:00 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I am currently in the market for steel buildings. I have heard that the steel building industry can be deceptive. I ran across a company called Anthem Steel buildings. Anyone ever purchase a building from them?

If not, do you know any other steel buildings companies?


Posted by: steel buildings at November 28, 2004 05:38 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment