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Is There Steel in Bush's Spine?

Patrick J Buchanan

November 17  2003

With the World Trade Organization's backing, Europe just issued an ultimatum to the United States. Either President Bush repeals the tariffs he imposed to save the U.S. steel industry, or Europe will slam $2 billion in tariffs on U.S. exports.

The European Union is threatening us with a trade war.

Predictably, our globalists and Big Media are in a panic, imploring the president to surrender. What Bush decides will tell us what he is made of. Some of us still hope there is steel in his spine.

This confrontation had to come, and will come again, even if we back down now. A collision was preordained when Bill Clinton and Congress surrendered America's sovereign right to determine her own trade policy to a WTO where the United States is outvoted 15 to 1 by the European Union.

Either President Bush confronts Europe now, or he buckles and accepts the slow death of U.S. manufacturing.

With our merchandise trade deficit running over $500 billion, the dollar falling and one in six U.S. manufacturing jobs having vanished under this president, there is no doubt what the future holds if he does not defy the E.U. ultimatum.

How did this steel crisis come about?

When the Asian crisis broke in 1997-1998, Clinton led the rescue with hundreds of billions in IMF, World Bank and U.S. loans. To enable the bankrupt countries to earn dollars to repay the loans, Clinton threw open America's market. Dump at will, he told the world. The Asians devalued and began to dump. The U.S. trade deficit doubled. U.S. industries began to die and jobs to vanish, as American companies closed factories here to open them in Mexico, Asia and China.

With an overcapacity of steel production worldwide, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and South Korea began to dump their steel into the United States at prices well below that of U.S. steel.

Why could they sell so cheaply? Because their steel is subsidized, their workers earn but a fraction of U.S. wages and their steel does not carry in its price the cost of health care, Social Security, Medicare or U.S. taxes that every ton of U.S.-produced steel carries in its cost.

Europe and Japan got in on the act, dumping to kill the U.S. steel industry the way Japan killed our TV industry. Our "trading partners" were determined that when world steel demand soared again, it would be their industries that had survived, while the once-mighty U.S. steel industry would be dead and the huge U.S. market would be theirs.

Candidate Bush gave his word to the steelworkers of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania that, if they could prove they had suffered because of foreign dumping of steel, he would step in. The International Trade Commission concluded unanimously (6 to 0) that, indeed, the U.S. industry had been a victim of foreign dumping. The president kept his word.

As much of the U.S. industry slid into bankruptcy, he stepped in to save what he could by imposing tariffs of up to 30 percent on steel imports. He has almost succeeded in restoring the industry.

However, U.S. steel consumers, like auto companies, addicted to cheap foreign steel, howled. They are still howling. Let the U.S. steel industry go under, they say, we need cheap steel now.

The options the president now has are these. Does he cave in to E.U. threats of a trade war? Does he accept the dictat of a global trade regime dominated by anti-Americans and Eurosocialists? Does he keep us inside a system devised by Clintonites and One-Worlders to transfer production out of America into the Third World? Or will he defy the WTO, saving a U.S. industry under attack by trade predators?

What should the president do? Simple. Defend our national interests, and declare our independence of the WTO. If he believes a vibrant U.S. steel industry is vital to America, and that foreign imports threaten it, he should defend the steel industry and dump the WTO. Indeed, we should get out of the WTO now.

It is time for America to exercise its sovereign right and pull out of a trade regime designed to denude us of our manufacturing and hand over our best blue-collar jobs to Third World workers. If the Europeans want to go that way, let them.

The president should tell Europe this: "As president, I intend to maintain the tariffs to defend the U.S. steel industry. I value that industry and the economic independence and self-sufficiency of my country more than our participation in any globalist regime.

"So, if you mean to have a trade war, let it begin here. But let me assure you. If you start this trade war, we will finish it. And you will lose it. Your call."

2003 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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