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What Protectionists Intend

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Yesterday’s Baltimore Sun published this letter [2] from U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD):

The Sun’s column "American workers caught in steel trap" (Opinion •
Commentary, Sept. 19) condemned politicians’ silence on the demise of
American steel jobs.

But I have not, and will not, stop fighting for steel.

Since I came to Congress, I have fought for measures to protect America’s steel companies and its workers.

I called on the president to impose trade tariffs on steel to level the playing field.

I fought for the creation of the Emergency Steel Loan Guarantee Program
to provide emergency loan guarantees to help steel companies weather
the storm.

And because of the many jobs lost in the industry,
I also had to fight to protect pensions and health care benefits of
retirees left in the cold.

Most recently, I helped craft the Pension Protection Act, which does a great deal to protect retirees’ pensions.

I stood up for steelworkers and steel companies to ensure that
government rules don’t exacerbate the economic difficulties of a sector
struggling to compete.

But years of unfair foreign trade practices have scarred our domestic industry.

And the indifference by the current administration to the woes of our
steel industry is costing America an important segment of its economy.

This will come back to haunt us.

Barbara A. Mikulski
Washington

I sent the following letter in reply:

Editor, The Baltimore Sun

Dear Editor:

Let’s
reveal the ugly underbelly of Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s letter in which
she boasts of her support of special government privileges for the
steel industry (Letters, September 23).

She writes: "I have
fought for measures to protect America’s steel companies and its
workers."  This sentence instead should read "I have fought for
measures to shield America’s steel producers from the rigors of
competition by preventing American consumers from spending their money
as they deem best."

She writes: "I fought for the creation of
the Emergency Steel Loan Guarantee Program to provide emergency loan
guarantees to help steel companies weather the storm."  This sentence
instead should read "I have fought to force taxpayers to subsidize
steel companies that are too inefficient to get adequate private
financing."

Were she truly honest and courageous, Sen. Mikulski
would summarize her position by saying "In short, I have worked hard to
appease a powerful interest group – and to improve my chances of
staying in the Senate – even though doing so makes most Americans
poorer and less free."

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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