Arnold Kling

Steel Tariffs

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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In case you were in any doubt about the wisdom of President Bush's decision to impose tariffs on steel, Pat Buchanan's position should settle it for you.

Though threatened with a trade war, the president did not buckle or back down. Good for him. Economic patriotism may just be back in style. And if the European Union decides to haul us before the World Trade Organization for a caning, the president should tell the WTO to take a hike. If Europe wants a trade war with the United States, let it begin here.

If steel tariffs have Buchanan's support, then you know that they are a terrible idea.

Paul Krugman criticizes the tariffs. This column is unusual for Krugman in that (a) he expresses opinions that most economists would endorse and (b) he makes an unflattering comment about Democrats.

Let's be clear: Many Democrats were on the wrong side of the steel issue. But it was up to Mr. Bush to show leadership, to demonstrate that he really cares about the principles he espouses. I guess not.

Discussion Question. Should someone in the Bush Administration have been willing to threaten to resign if steel tariffs were approved? Trade Representative Zoellick? Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Hubbard?

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