Government industrial policy is in fashion these days, using tariffs, subsidies and mandates to allocate capital. But to see how that is working in practice, look at the fate of U.S. Steel, which is now seeking a buyer to improve its fortunes. A mix of labor politics and protectionism could block a sale in the best interest of shareholders.
If U.S. Steel manages to clear the union hurdle, it could face a greater challenge from Washington. Legislators and regulators will play a role in the company’s fate. Congress’s industrial-policy caucus is already weighing in for their parochial political interests.
GOP Sen. J.D. Vance sent a letter to U.S. Steel this month urging the company not to consider offers from overseas buyers. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna echoed him, saying “any new steel acquisitions in the US must be led by American companies.” Their goal seems to be to tip the buyout in favor of Cleveland-Cliffs to protect the USW.
Their demands ignore the small scale of the deal and existing national-security safeguards. Once the world’s most valuable steel producer, U.S. Steel has slipped to 27th in global steel output and now produces about a third less volume than current U.S. leader Nucor.
Alas, Democrats have not shown much more enlightenment on the issue. In some cases, in fact, their ideas are nearly identical.
Despite calling Trump’s tariff policy “self-defeating,” “shortsighted” and job-killing during the 2020 election, Joe Biden in his presidency has maintained nearly all of Trump’s tariffs, or swapped them out for different trade restrictions. Biden has sometimes spoken of embracing allies economically to solidify an alliance against China. But his administration’s marquee effort in Asia, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, deliberately excludes tariff liberalization or otherwise opening up market access.
Biden has said his trade approach is designed to help American workers. Unfortunately, it might well do the opposite, as he had acknowledged back in 2020 when his tariffs were still considered Trump’s. This is especially true with regard to duties on materials or other inputs that get purchased by U.S. firms to make their own products.
Over the past 10 years or more, a once fringe, academic definition of anti-racism – often lumped together under the banner of ‘critical race theory’ – has become the ideology of the American elites, its perverse mantras parroted by the corporate media, the C-Suite, even the White House.
This is the ideology, espoused by bestselling authors like Robin DiAngelo, that insists white supremacy still seeps from every pore of American society; that it is America’s original sin; and that, like original sin, it cannot really be overcome, just repented for, over and over again.
Racial thinking has been resurrected through wokeness, with black people cast as permanent victims, to be tiptoed around and pitied, essentially, by permanently repentant whites, while whites themselves are treated as almost congenitally morally wanting, as tainted by ‘white privilege’.
Thus discrimination has been given a makeover, too. Writers who masquerade as the heirs to King, and an octogenarian president who draws much of his self-image from his civil-rights record, are demanding, and mandating, that people be treated according to the colour of their skin rather than the content of their character.
It would be nice if the entire lockdown regime led by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.) and other similarly reckless governors nationwide could be put on trial. It might be useful to have officials acknowledge under oath just how small the Covid risks to children really were—and also how small the benefits of societal shutdowns turned out to be, especially in light of titanic costs.
Perhaps sensing parents’ continued anger over the Covid school shutdowns, the Administration is trying to claim credit for reopening them. “When President Biden took office, less than half of K-12 students were going to school in person,” the White House said. “Today, thanks to the President’s swift actions and historic investments, every school in America is open safely for in-person instruction.”
What an achievement—three and a half years after the start of the pandemic, all schools are open. The Administration omits that its own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took dictation from union chief Randi Weingarten for its reopening guidelines. Those guidelines gave unions in urban school districts like Chicago cover to delay the return to full in-person learning.
Schools would have opened much sooner had Mr. Biden used his bully pulpit and leveraged federal money. The Administration could have conditioned the nearly $200 billion in Covid funds that Congress appropriated for schools on their reopening. Instead, schools were showered with more money than they could usefully spend.
Johan Norberg has a new paper published by the Cato Institute. Here’s some of what Johan says about that paper:
Today, I am publishing the Cato Policy Analysis paper, Sweden during the Pandemic: Pariah or Paragon? where I look at what Sweden did and summarize how it worked out. In the end, Sweden did better than other countries when it comes to school results and economic performance. That was to be expected as Sweden was one of few countries where schools and workplaces remained open. More surprisingly, Sweden also did better than most western countries on health outcomes.
Remarkably, Sweden had one of the lowest excess mortality rates during the three pandemic years 2020–22 – less than half of America’s. It seems like voluntary adaptation to the pandemic worked better than most people expected, and it suggests that it was not Sweden but the lockdown countries that engaged in an unprecedented experiment, depriving millions of their freedom without a discernible benefit to public health.
1-in-7 people in countries with full lockdowns did not undergo planned cancer surgery or experienced treatment delays because of the lockdowns.
This is one of many reasons why countries with harsh lockdowns may have experienced more, not fewer, deaths.
COVID-19 cases are up. Hospitalizations climbed 24 percent last week.
But the media make everything seem scarier than it is. The headline “Up 24 Percent!” comes after dramatic lows. Hospitalizations are still less than half what they were when President Joe Biden said, “The pandemic is over.”
Yet the shallow media keep pounding away: “It may be time to break out the masks,” headlined CNN.