Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Outlaw Chinese Steel

Forged with the despicable dividend of stolen trade secrets, priced with monopoly collusion, then traded with fraudulent labeling to dodge U.S. duties, steel from China violates every principle of capitalism. That’s in addition to defying both U.S. and international trade laws.

It’s outlaw steel. And last week, U.S. Steel Corp. asked the U.S. government to outlaw its import.

U.S. Steel requested this unusual intervention after China hacked into its computers, ripped off trade secrets, then used those secrets to directly compete with U.S. Steel in the American market. China is flooding the international market with excess, government-subsidized steel. That is closing mills and killing jobs from South Africa to Great Britain to North America. The United States can choose to ignore this. It can become a weakling, reliant on other nations for steel, including some, like China, that clearly are not allies. Or, the United States can act now, as U.S. Steel demands, to secure America’s industrial strength and independence. 

More ...

China Says No To Fixing Steel Problem

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

China Says No To Fixing Steel Problem

China is producing much more steel than the country and the world can use, and is “dumping” it onto international markets. But when China was confronted with the dumping charge at a conference in Brussels this week, the Chinese government refused to back down.

The Chinese actions are causing steel operations around the world to shut down their own production and lay off workers. So far in the U.S., more than 13,500 steelworkers have been laid off or are facing layoffs.

China has again and again promised to reduce its steel production and help bring stability to world markets. Instead, China has actually increased production. In fact, the Alliance for American Manufacturing says, “Exports of Chinese steel last month were actually up 30 percent from where they were a year ago.”

A meeting in Brussels of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was called this week to discuss a “multilateral framework” for addressing China’s “structural overcapacity.” But China refused to commit to specific and timely actions to fix the problem.

More ...

Ted Cruz Uses Discredited Talking Points To Make Case Against Minimum Wage Hike

Aaron Rupar

Aaron Rupar ThinkProgress

The day after the Democratic presidential candidates discussed their shared desire to realize a $15 minimum wage during a debate in Brooklyn, Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) went on CNBC and said he thinks the very concept of a wage floor is flawed.

“Every time we raise the minimum wage, predictably what happens is a significant number of people lose their jobs, and they’re almost always low-income, they’re often teenagers, African Americans and Hispanics,” Cruz said.

Research, however, shows no significant connection between increasing the minimum wage and jobs. A 2009 analysis of 64 United States minimum-wage studies found “little or no evidence of a negative association between minimum wages and employment.” Likewise, a 2013 Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report found that “Research over the past two decades has shown that, despite skeptics’ claims, modest increases in the minimum wage have little to no negative impact on jobs. In fact, under current labor market conditions, where tepid consumer demand is a major factor holding businesses back from expanding their payrolls, raising the minimum wage can provide a catalyst for new hiring.”

Those findings are reinforced by a 2014 Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) study that looked at two decades of minimum wage increases in various states and “found no clear evidence that the minimum-wage increases affect aggregate job creation when unemployment rates are high,” let alone when unemployment is relatively low.

More ...

The new fiduciary rule: strengths, limits, and politics

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

OTEers know I’ve long been concerned about economic security in retirement among aging Americans whose limited earnings and savings threaten to generate inadequate income replacement rates once they’ve aged out of the workforce.

That’s one reason for my frequent scribblings on behalf of the new “fiduciary rule,” limiting conflicts of interest among financial advisors providing investment advice for retirement savers. Jeff Sommer has a useful piece in the NYT on this and other matters, making many good points but glossing over one very important one.

First, the gloss. Thanks to some seriously stiff spines by Democrats in the White House and Congress, conservatives’ efforts to block the rule have thus far been thwarted. The rule—which basically requires retirement savings advisors to put their clients’ interests first—starts phasing in about a year from now, i.e., early in the next president’s first term.

But you notice how I keep calling this a “rule,” not legislation? Congress didn’t pass this into law, of course (that would be way too functional), so the next president can change the rule on day one. It would actually take some time to unwind it—there’s a process that would take months—but it could be stopped before it started.

More ...

The new age or the stone age: we either deal with the costs of trade or they deal with us

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Economist David Autor et al keep producing really important findings about the impact of trade on people and communities hurt by international competition. Their latest entry, on the connection between trade-induced job losses and political polarization, is written up in today’s NYT:

“Cross-referencing congressional voting records and district-by-district patterns of job losses and other economic trends between 2002 and 2010, the researchers found that areas hardest hit by trade shocks were much more likely to move to the far right or the far left politically.”

For years, it was impolite to raise the costs of trade in policy discussions, even while fully recognizing the benefits. Eventually, the implications of the models, especially “factor price equalization,”—the idea that trade with low-wage countries could lower the wages of workers in sectors that compete with imports—allowed the word “globalization” to be added to “technology” in describing inequality. (Go ahead and try this at home: ask an economist what causes inequality, and they’ll say “globalization and technology.”)

But Autor et al, along with various others (the Economic Policy Institute has been onto this since its inception in the 1980s), have helped us get beyond sweeping generalizations. They’ve done so by drilling down into the microdata to identify the impact on affected communities, with a particular emphasis on the impact on China of trade in the 2000s. Their work is creating the oxygen to recognize, even in polite company, the double-edged sword of U.S. trade dynamics, with our persistent and large deficits.

More ...

Do Your Job!

Do Your Job!

Union Matters

America: A Flint in the Making

When the Flint water crisis hit the news late last year, it sent shockwaves around the country. Good citizens everywhere asked, “How could any government allow up to 12,000 children to be exposed to poisonous water? How could they have cared so much about saving money that they failed to perform the normal practice of treating the water to prevent lead leaching into it from old pipes?”

But as details of the tragedy came to light and as data started to roll in about Flint’s water system and systems elsewhere, a scary reality was revealed:

Flint is not alone.

As Detroit  mayor Rich Snyder meets with President Obama today to discuss details of the man-made disaster, all across the country America’s amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties are disintegrating due to crumbling infrastructure. Official neglect rooted in fiscal excuses and a lack of regard for poor and minority communities, like Flint, are putting public safety in extreme danger.

The 2014 gas explosion in Harlem that killed eight people and injured dozens? That was caused by the installation of a defective fusion joint inside a gas line that was over 100 years old.

The Tex Wash Bridge collapse last year in southern California that was the result of a heavy rainfall? That structure was built with a flawed design and a shallow foundation in 1967 and was deemed “functionally obsolete” in 2013.

And, of course, the levees that failed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 leaving millions of people homeless and over 1,800 dead? They were missing a storm-protection system and lacked both strength and adequate structure.

From sea to shining sea, America’s infrastructure is failing.

More ...