Ross: Tax Cuts First, Then We’ll Get to Trade Issues Like Steel Imports

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Friday morning that the long-delayed national investigations into steel and aluminum imports won’t be released until after Congress deals with tax reform.

Ross’s statement comes just two days after he met via phone with steelworkers who were in Washington to urge the administration to release the “Section 232” investigations as soon as possible. Tom Conway, the international vice president of the United Steelworkers, told Inside U.S. Trade after the meeting that Ross “wants to release [the report] as soon as he can.”

But it now appears steel and aluminum workers will have to wait until a massive tax overhaul works its way through Congress before they get any relief.

Ross said on CNBC that the Trump administration doesn’t “want to do things that will unnecessarily irritate the Senate” – i.e., Republicans whose votes are needed on taxes but who also tend to be opposed to action on imports. Along with delaying the Section 232 investigations, CNBC reports the administration is also “softening its stance” on key trade issues like NAFTA and a trade deal with South Korea.

Meanwhile, steelworkers from Alabama to Michigan to Indiana and beyond continue to cope with job losses and plant closures as imports surge into the country. Since the two “Section 232” imports investigations were launched in April, steel imports alone are up more than 21 percent.

"By public affirming a delay in the Section 232 review and relief, the administration may be laying out a welcome mat for a surge in steel imports," said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. "This is a mistake."

Paul noted that the rationale of the Trump administration's decision doesn't make much sense.

"A Republican Senator is going to oppose corporate tax relief because of a steel trade action? Unlikely," Paul said. "Good luck selling that to American factory workers."

Indeed. If the imports continue unchecked, more plants are likely to shut down – and more jobs will be lost. The ongoing crisis already has been devastating to working class communities across the country, like the mining community supported by Minnesota’s Iron Range.

“We’ve been through a pretty tough last couple of years. We’ve had a lot of plant shutdowns, layoffs,” said Cliff Tobey, who represents Iron Range workers as president of USW Local 2660. “Matter of fact, my plant, we just got up and running after about a 20-month shutdown. Very, very hard on our members and their families.”

The situation is similar at U.S. Steel Gary Works in Indiana, reports William “Billy” McCaul.

“The impact on the region, Northwest Indiana, is very deep. One steelworker probably is about seven other jobs in the community. I mean, that’s your barber, your doctor, your grocer,” he said. “And so one steelworker job impacts deep, the region, and then overall the state of Indiana, and then, too, the United States of America. It’s a chain.”

Terra Samuel, who works at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor near Chicago, also came to D.C. this week. She said that if the investigation is “not wrapped up soon, we may end up in a lot of trouble.”

“If nothing’s done… it’s just going to get worse,” Samuel said, noting that if dumped imports reach a certain level, it might not be possible for U.S. industry to cope. “I mean, when you’re looking at steel, you’re looking at cars, you’re looking at infrastructure, you’re looking at all kinds of impact, national security. So, it hurts us in so many ways. If we can get a handle on it now, it’ll be the best thing for us to do.”

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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Health Care Should Not Be A Bargaining Weapon

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