from Jonah Goldberg at National Review, A Conspiracy against the People
Steel and aluminum producers are a faction. They are aided by a larger faction — i.e., voters who have a greater grasp of their own nostalgia than on economic realities. And they have a sympathetic ear in the White House. Not long ago, Republicans waxed quite righteous about the Obama administration “picking winners and losers” in the economy. I’m at a loss as to why we should stop now.
The funny thing is that this move toward protection is celebrated or condemned as a fulfillment of Trump’s “populist” agenda. I get that we label protectionism “populist” these days — though I’m old enough to remember when protectionism was a technocratic cause. But populism is supposed to mean putting the interests of “the people” first. (The problem with populism is that populists never mean all the people; they only mean their people.) And this move isn’t in the interests of most people. How is it “populist” to punish over 300 million consumers and the 6.5 million workers in steel-consuming industries for the benefit of 140,000 workers in the steel-producing industry? Trump says trade wars are “good” — but when other nations retaliate, farmers, truckers, manufacturers, and Americans in general will pay the price.
This isn’t populism in any literal meaning of the word; it’s elitism of the rankest sort. The president is abusing a law beyond its intended purpose to heap favor on a specific industry, while telling Americans that they aren’t paying enough for cars, aluminum cans, and countless other goods. Despite the fact that the U.S. steel industry already provides 70 percent of the steel used in America. This is literally conspiracy against the public.
What DT is risking is not just some political points in the rust belt and trade promises. When this trade war ends like all the rest do, and the economy takes a hit- it will not be his stupid trade polices that are blamed, it will be his ‘stupid’ tax cuts.
Jay Cost at National Review addresses why the President and not Congress is making trade policy; Tariffs and the President.
We get most of our imported steel from Canada. Is Canada a National Security Risk?