The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Swamp Is Alive! It Is Alive!

The beauty of the modern age is that you can just turn on your TV and witness live how cronyism works.

Just a few hours ago, President Trump hosted a “listening session” with steel and aluminum executives, whom he had summoned to the White House. Right there, on live TV, we witnessed these CEOs pleading for government support that will inevitably result in higher prices for consumers of steel and aluminum. And, as we all sat there, stunned, we watched the president grant their demand and make policy on live TV.

Import taxes on steel and aluminum are coming to America, people.

It was surreal. In one instance, we saw David Burritt, executive vice president and CEO of United States Steel Corp., say in one breath that this is not protectionism, and then, in the next breath, ask for protectionism.

We also saw the head of Nucor saying how his 25,000 employees will really benefit from these import taxes. But what about the other 5.4 million workers in downstream industries? I guess no one cares about them because they weren’t privileged enough to be invited to give their perspective.

Talking about perspective, where was Trump’s economic adviser, Gary Cohn, making the case for workers in steel- and aluminum-consuming industries? Where was Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchinm explaining that tariffs don’t bring jobs back but can force manufacturing production abroad? Where was national security adviser H. R. McMaster explaining that, contrary to what the Department of Commerce says, this is not a national-security issue for the military?

Maybe they weren’t invited to the big-government-handout party.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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