••• The International Writers Magazine: Steelyard Blues
The Half-Assed Steel Tarrif
Man, I was all prepared to crank out another two-way column that would upset everyone who loves and hates the president simultaneously, but after that noodle proclamation or whatever that was David Dennison aka Donald Trump signed into whatever it is he signed it into I’ve got nothing.
What I was going to write is that it should come as no surprise to anyone that Dennison aka Trump has been saying since, I don’t know, the late 1990s that he despises trade deficits and believes the U.S. is getting ripped off. He is partially right about this, which was ostensibly the foundation of Senator Bernie Sanders run, and that is why Dennison aka Trump was elected president by a thin margin of 77,000 voters in the Rust Belt in November of 2016. Beyond quasi-racism, name-calling, and fending off sexual assault and harassment claims, this was the core of his campaign. Dennison (Trump) would have been right to pay back those who put him in the White House, even if it plunged the rest of us into a possible trade war and jacked up the price of cars (steel) and beer (aluminum), among other goods. This idea, though, that just because the president is under siege from porn stars and a special counsel that he’s trying to change the narrative (while theoretically could be true) should not be deemed as the normal Trumpian aka Dennisonesque “shoot-from-the-hip” stuff. This is why is he president.
However, this week El Douche only went half-way – and some with a grasp of the facts and statistics could argue no-way – to end with any strong measure the true trade deficit for the steel and aluminum industries. By exempting Canada and Mexico from his half-assed edict, the president is barely throwing a cup of water on what he and the unions believe is a raging fire. It is symbolic, like most things Dennison (Trump) says or does. He is our most “How Does This Look?” president. He waves his hands a lot to make you think he’s pulling a rabbit out of a hat, when it isn’t really a hat and there was never actually going to be a rabbit.
To be fair, this is politics as usual, but this was supposed to be different this time, right?
If Dennison (Trump) was to do what he boldly claimed a week earlier before the markets tumbled and nearly every member of his pro-trade/anti-union party starting cry foul, then there could have been real teeth to this, and with it, part of the doom that I would have loved to predict here. But like Mexico paying for the border wall, branding China as currency manipulators, wiping out the ACA in his first week, revealing his tax returns, suing the 19 women accusing him of all measures of sexual improprieties, signing any DACA bill sent to his desk, outlawing bum stocks, signing the “largest tax cut in history”, growing the economy by four-percent, appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, eliminate Common Core, (fuck it, I’m exhausted, you get it) he failed to either do anything or went to the edge and pulled back.
Don’t get me wrong, what our game show president doesn’t know about trade you could barely squeeze into Yankee Stadium. He infamously blurted out recently when pressed on this idea; “Trade wars are easy to win”, despite U.S. going oh-fer in every instance, most disastrously the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff that expedited the Great Depression or the fabulous 18 months when George W. Bush tried to save the steel industry in 2002 by raising tariffs on selected steel products that tanked more jobs than were saved and plunged the very states it was to “save” into economic crisis.
I was actually looking forward to a real biting trade tariff to prove AGAIN this nonsense about U.S. jobs being mostly eliminated from trade and how if it were implemented they would suddenly return. Then in another generation some other blowhard will promise to fix it and make jobs come back and some new suckers will buy it. But alas, none of that will happen, because in order of annual percentage, here are the top ten countries importing steel into this country, all of which have been sighted by the United Steel Workers Union as “cheating” by dumping unfairly underpriced product into this country – which by the way is the case with nearly every product that enters this country or is made by manufacturers abroad to keep prices down in places nearly 80-percent of the country shops at like Walmart and Target – but that is another cogent argument in the face of hysteria for another day:
1. Canada 16.7 percent
2. Brazil 13.2 percent
3. South Korea 9.7 percent
4. Mexico 9.4 percent
5. Russia 8.1 percent
6. Turkey 5.6 percent
7. Japan 4.9 percent
8. Germany 3.7 percent
9. Taiwan 3.2 percent
10. China 2.9 percent
And this is according to Reuters. In other estimations China is farther down the list, but definitely farther down than Canada and Mexico, who have been exempt from these tariffs. And this is a good thing if you care about unwinnable trade wars and paying more for goods, but it is really just a Band-Aid on a gaping wound if you voted for David Dennison aka Donald Trump and you expected results.
Listen, I get the steel and aluminum lobby has this coming every ten years or so. Someone has to pay lip service to these voters. However, why is the president choosing winners and losers here? Why is this socialist edict of saving a few thousand jobs more important than costing thousands or more of other jobs that may and would disappear as a result of a true tariff with real teeth. And what of these other countries that are not Canada and Mexico? Do they, especially allies like Brazil, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea (who at the time of this writing is working its ass off trying to avoid a nuclear war between ego-mad sociopaths) view this as a hostile gesture borne of capitalist cronyism and retaliate in kind?
A Symbolic gesture to the voter base is as old as the concept of politics, and thank goodness someone got to this nut job before he made a sweeping 25 percent/10 percent tariff on key trade partners like Canada and Mexico, which by treaty, must not be fucked with. If Dennison aka Trump really wanted to enact his belief and if we are truly to see this fail miserably, then why half-ass it. Why not just go after the WTO as he has NAFTA?
Show some guts and do what you say, for once.
Let’s see how Americans like paying more for stuff to save a few thousand jobs in three states.
That would be worth writing about.
© James Campion March 10th 2018
Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”. and his new book, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon”.
And coming in June, 2018; “Accidently Like a Martyr, The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon”
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