By the late 1980s, high steel prices and quota-induced shortages were undermining factory efficiency as just-in-time processes gave way to just-in-case workarounds. Unconcerned, the steel industry demanded five more years of even tighter quotas.
That launched a political fight sometimes called the Steel Wars. A robust coalition of American steel users – led by Caterpillar, where I worked – was formed to push for an end to the quotas. Big companies provided much of the political access, but what carried the day was the hundreds of small metal-bending concerns represented by the Precision Metalforming Association. Congress quickly learned that 30 times as many people worked in factories using steel than in mills making it – and they were mad. Most of them seemed to be located in the same congressional districts as steelworkers.
If Trump is right to abhor trade deficits, then maybe Australia, Canada, Panama, Chile, Peru, Morocco, Oman, Bahrain and Singapore should be demanding renegotiation of their free trade agreements with the United States. The U.S. has surpluses with all of them.
Sheldon Richman asks the essential question about tax policy . A slice:
Opponents object to the top cut as a tax break for the rich, while proponents, including the president himself, say it would stimulate economic growth and create jobs. No one asks, “Whose money is it?” The term tax break suggests the beneficiaries don’t really deserve it: giving people a break rarely means giving them what is already theirs. On the other hand, justifying a tax cut as a stimulant to economic growth implies that if a tax increase would accomplish that (as some argue), then an increase would be justified.
The implicit premise that the money belongs to the politicians can be detected in various ways. For example, whenever a tax cut is proposed, critics ask, “How are you going to pay for that?” That’s a peculiar question indeed. If I want a Ferrari, someone might reasonably ask, “How are you going to pay for that?” because I need money to buy it. But a tax cut isn’t a purchase. It’s what happens when government abstains from taking money from taxpayers. It need not be paid for. If I was thinking of grabbing that $20 bill sticking out of your pocket and then decide not to, no one would ask, “How are going to pay for that abstention from theft?”