Bad Instincts

Some rare good news for free-traders:

The Bush administration has decided to repeal its 20-month-old tariffs on imported steel to head off a trade war that would have included foreign retaliation against products from politically crucial states, administration and industry sources said yesterday.


It’s good news, to be sure, but not very.

When pressed, Bush’s first instinct was to raise steel tarriffs to win some votes in Pennsylvania — no matter how many jobs were lost in other industries, and no matter the final cost to consumers. Bush relented only when faced with an unpopular trade war.

And then there’s the second graf:

The officials would not say when President Bush will announce the decision but said it is likely to be this week. The officials said they had to allow for the possibility that he would make some change in the plan, but a source close to the White House said it was “all but set in stone.”

Translation: Even under threat of a trade war, we’re still looking for room to backpedal in order to keep those steel votes bought.

Free trade just doesn’t seem to be in Bush’s blood.


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