13 Jan 2022
Inflation is not being driven by United States tariffs on steel, aluminum, and other foreign imports, the United Steelworkers (USW) urge lawmakers.
As inflation surges throughout the nation, USW leaders are warning free trade lawmakers — recently blaming tariffs for rising costs — that they will be held accountable come election time.
“Public comments and communications by a few elected representatives and importers have shown a disregard for the common-sense policies that were implemented to address unfair trade practices, massive global industrial overcapacity, and other forces that have undermined our own interests,” USW President Thomas Conway writes. “Some have called for lifting Section 301 tariffs against China claiming they contribute to inflation.”
“Yet many of these tariffs have been in place for years, which means they are clearly not contributing to current inflation spikes,” Conway continues, urging lawmakers to look into the corporate profits of giant multinational corporations rather than tariffs protecting American manufacturing jobs:
Calls by special interests like the retail community to reduce tariffs to relieve short-term price pressures belie the fact that the total value of U.S. tariffs collected since 2018, including the 232, 301, and other duties, was about half of the gross profits of one domestic-based company (Amazon) during the same period. If prices are the problem, corporate profits should be the first target for action, not undermining the job prospects for hard-working Americans. To put an even finer point on why tariffs collected are an insignificant factor on inflation, the increased wealth of eight individuals – Jeff Bezos and the Walton family – in 2020 was one-third higher than total duties collected by the U.S. government. [Emphasis added]
USW takes very seriously efforts to dismantle, destroy, or denigrate existing trade remedy measures that protect American manufacturers, workers, and communities. We will fight for our members’ jobs. Just as we will happily work with those among our political leaders who consistently fight on the side of working Americans, we will hold those on the other side accountable for their efforts to harm our manufacturing sector and the communities that rely on it. [Emphasis added]
Conway writes that “outsourcing and offshoring” schemes by corporations in recent decades, as a result of free trade policies, have spurred “the hollowing out of … communities as wages were depressed and jobs disappeared.”
The solution, Conway continues, is “sensible industrial policy, strong domestic investment, and federal trade policy, which reduces incentives to arbitrage global labor and environmental standards.”
The USW letter comes as a coalition of Republicans and Democrats have joined forces to fight the federal government over the executive branch’s authority on tariffs.
Last month, Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court fighting the executive branch over tariff authority.
Months prior, Toomey joined Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) in seeking to strip the executive branch from readily imposing tariffs on foreign imports to protect national security.