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GMU Scalia Law professor Adam White makes the case for overturning Chevron.

George Will decries the economic illiteracy and xenophobia that motivate opposition to Nippon’s acquisition of U.S. Steel. Three slices:

The crisis du jour, according to some febrile senators, is a Japanese corporation’s intention to buy America’s 573rd largest U.S. corporation (as this is written, its market capitalization is smaller than that of Casey’s General Stores). The U.S. corporation for sale has fewer employees (22,470) than Dave & Buster’s (a chain of restaurants with games).

Three excitable Republican senators, all self-described conservatives, have temporarily suspended their vigilance against socialism to exhort the Biden administration to prevent this market-directed efficiency in capital allocation. The senators — Ohio’s J.D. Vance, Missouri’s Josh Hawley and Florida’s Marco Rubio — say that if Nippon Steel, the world’s fourth-largest steelmaker, purchases U.S. Steel, the 27th-largest, U.S. national security will be imperiled.

Vance says U.S. Steel is a “critical piece” of the U.S. “defense industrial base.” But this corporation, which is just thefourth-largest U.S. steel producer, will still produce steel, but more efficiently. And Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in 2017 that just 3 percent of domestic steel production is required for defense purposes. And Japan, one of the most important U.S. allies, will become more so as a collaborative producer of an important commodity. And, by the way, Nippon vows to keep U.S. Steel’s headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Rubio, whose campaign donors include domestic sugar producers, and who says sugar import quotas protect America’s “food security,” says the sale of U.S. Steel is a “poignant metaphor” for America’s “deindustrialization.” Nippon, however, intends to modernize, not liquidate, U.S. Steel.


Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, a Democrat, calls it “outrageous” that U.S. Steel is selling itself to a “foreign nation.” But Nippon is not a nation. Like U.S. Steel, it is a publicly traded private corporation, some of whose shares probably are owned by U.S. individuals and pension funds. As Reason’s Eric Boehm notes, Nippon, which has been operating in America for 40 years, already owns two U.S.-based steelmakers, Standard Steel and Wheeling-Nippon Steel.


Economic illiteracy, mixed with foggy nostalgia and unseemly xenophobia, is a familiar populist cocktail served by demagogues to the gullible. Do you remember the 1989 angst when Mitsubishi’s purchase of Rockefeller Center supposedly somehow signaled Japan’s ascendancy over a declining America?

In 2000, a U.S. company bought Rockefeller Center. So, politicians manning the nation’s ramparts to fend off foreign investors can breathe a bit easier.

Reason‘s Eric Boehm reports on further spasms of economic illiteracy mixed with hubris. Two slices:

In response to the news that an aluminum smelting plant in southern Missouri will soon close, Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) has asked—nay, demanded—that President Joe Biden use his powers to keep the plant open.

“I urge you to take the appropriate actions necessary to keep the smelter open, to ensure the continuity of operations, and to preserve production jobs—including by deploying the authorities of the Defense Production Act of 1950,” Hawley wrote in a letter to the White House this week. “Doing so will preserve good-paying union jobs and safeguard national security.”

The modern presidency has tremendous powers, of course, but this is still quite the stretch. Hawley is asking the White House to engage in central planning at an absurdly micro-level—and there is, thankfully, no law that actually allows the president to order a factory to continue producing aluminum if its owners have decided to stop.

Even so, the fact that Hawley is even making this request illustrates something important about how Republicans now view the relationship between government and business. It also says something about how the failures of protectionism will spur calls for more protectionism. And, finally, about how the phrase “national security” has become warped beyond recognition to justify further governmental intrusions into the economy.

But let’s start with the Defense Production Act, which allows presidents to expedite governmental purchases of certain materials viewed as critical to national defense. Though it had been rarely used before the COVID-19 pandemic, it has recently become a favorite tool of would-be economic authoritarians on both sides of the aisle, and some lawmakers now seem to believe there are virtually no limits to how it can be used. Democrats have asked Biden to use it to promote green energy projects, and Biden has already invoked it to “accelerate domestic production” of solar panels under the questionable notion that solar panels are “essential to the national defense.” Even home insulation is now the subject of a Defense Production Act order, because it is somehow critical to defending America from a foreign invasion—of cold air, one assumes, likely a nefarious plot by those shifty Canadians.


The idea that the closure of a single aluminum plant is a national security crisis that should require the direct intervention of the White House is, frankly, insane. By demanding that Biden get involved, Hawley is suggesting that there should be effectively no limits to a president’s power to intervene in the economy—exactly the sort of unchecked expansion of executive power that Republicans used to understand would be dangerous and counterproductive.

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby explains that “America’s elites live in a world of their own.” Two slices:

In [Scott] Rasmussen’s general surveys, about 16 percent of respondents said there is too much individual freedom, while 57 percent said there is too much government control. But among the polled elites, three times as many (47 percent) believed there is too much freedom. Just 1 in 5 responded that there is too much control.

Strict rationing of gas, meat, and electricity? In broad-based surveys, 63 percent opposed rationing and 28 percent approved. When elites were surveyed, on the other hand, the results flipped: Fully 77 percent favored rationing, while only 22 percent said they were opposed.


Decades later, Rasmussen’s data suggest that the arrogance of such elites remains entrenched. In America they see a nation where people have too much freedom and should be told what to do by a government that knows best. Recounting a presentation he gave at Harvard a dozen years ago, Rasmussen tells me he has never forgotten one faculty member who demanded in exasperation: “Why won’t Americans let us lead? It’s what we were trained to do.” You don’t have to scrutinize poll numbers to recognize the impact of that attitude on America’s civic life. Too many elites look down on their fellow citizens, and an awful lot of their fellow citizens return the favor.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board rightly criticizes Biden’s pandering to climate fanatics. Two slices:

Americans received a preview of a second Biden term on Friday when the President halted permits for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects. Climate politics has become the tail wagging this Administration’s economic, national security and foreign policy. President Biden isn’t running for re-election. Climate lobbyist Bill McKibben and his TikTok army are.


Mr. Biden’s views sure have evolved. As Vice President, he boasted about the benefits of U.S. LNG exports. “The United States is now a net [gas] exporter,” he proclaimed at the 2016 CAF conference. “There are even greater opportunities to supply the energy needs of our partners in Latin America and around the world.”

He was right. Global demand for natural gas is expected to increase 46% by 2050 as countries industrialize and shift from coal. Most developing Asian economies still rely on coal for power, including India (71%), Indonesia (59%), Vietnam (57%) and the Philippines (55%). Global coal exports and power generation last year hit a record.

The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards has a proposal for helping to cure the U.S. government’s fiscal incontinence.

Here’s Bob Graboyes on election year 2024.

Insight from Arnold Kling: “As a politician, Mr. Trump knows how to shock. He knows how to mock. But that is his entire repertoire. My prediction is that by November most voters will be tired of it. We’ll be stuck with Mr. Biden until 2028 or until his dementia makes his staying in office unsustainable.”