Friday, October 01, 2004

The Bush Betrayal: Chapter 4

We continue coverage of this awesome book with another small sample:

        Chapter Title: Hollow Steel, Bush vs. Free Trade
Section Heading: The Great Steel Shaft

George W. Bush's administartion knew its steel tariffs would destroy American manufacturing jobs but imposed them anyhow. Bush's chief economic advisor, Glenn Hubbard, "drafted detailed analyses against the tariffs, including state-by-state job losses that he forecast for manufacturing," the Washington Post later reported.20 (The estimated job losses were never made public.) A late 2001 economic analysis by the Trade Partnership Worldwide consulting firm estimated that "new steel tariffs would cost about eight American jobs for every one steel job protected."21 Washington Post columnist George Will derided the Bush tarisffs: "Think of them as an $8 billion contribution coerced from manufacturers and consumers of steel products, for the benefit of about six Republican congressional candidates in steel-producing districts, and for Bush's reelection campaign."22
. . .
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a staunch Bush supporter, derided the tariff in a Senate speech on July 17, 2003: "The tariffs have become a job killer in the United States and ajobs growth program for Korea, Japan, Germany and other countries that produce quality auto parts. Since their institution in March 2002, the tariffs have already destoryed nearly as many jobs in the steel-consumign companies of America than exist in the entire steel-producing industry of America. Some auto parts plants in my state of Tennessee are already closing because of the higher costs of steel imposed by the tariffs."27 Alexander cited a study done for the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition which found that "higher steel prices cost 200,000 American jobs and $4 billion in lost wages from Februrary to November 2002."28

Footnotes without a direct link:
  25. Editorial, "Man of Steel?," Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2002.

So, there you have it. Bush put a whole lot of people out of work and made buying cars, among other things, more expensive for U.S. consumers - all just to win a couple more votes. Will it work, or will it backfire? Depends on the truth seeing the light of day.

One thing I didn't realize was that by raising tariffs on imports into the United States, the U.S. government may be protecting some U.S. jobs, but they're also hurting American consumers. Interesting, though, when you think of steel tariffs making their way into the cost of new cars. U.S. consumers end up paying more because Bush wanted to swing a few votes his way. This taxing of imports, in effect, becomes a way to increase taxes on Americans indirectly. I guess you'd call it a consumer tax. But the kicker is that this is a back-door tax. So Bush and his supporters can say they're cutting taxes left and right, but they're only cutting federal tax rates while they increase your cost of living by slapping taxes on 'imported goods'. This phenomenon is complicated, so it's a perfect situation for a Luntz-like catch phrase to sum the whole thing up - something like - back-door taxes. That's easy enough to understand, innit?

For more on Luntz-speak and the battle of words and catchphrases, check out this Kos post on George Lakoff's new book, Don't Think of an Elephant.

Link to original article (and Chapter 1 - Introduction) here.

Link to previous chapter.

Chapter 5.

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