By: JAMES GLASSMAN
Despite the Texas flood, North Korea’s threats and the Russia investigation, the administration is now focusing on the reason Donald Trump was elected president: improving the economy. In the next month, unless distractions intervene, we will see action on tax reform, infrastructure and, of course, trade.
One of the president’s promises for the first 100 days was to “identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.” He’s started to do that, but exporters, up to this point, may have doubted his conviction. That is changing.
The main abuse that’s been identified involves steel. Last year, President Barack Obama decried concerns about steel as “nostalgia.” The industry, he said, “is producing as much steel in the United States as it ever was. It’s just [that] it needs one-tenth of the workers that it used to.”
Actually, he was dead wrong. PolitiFact checked the statement and found that U.S. steel production peaked in 1973 at 137 million metric tons. Last year, the U.S. manufactured just 88 million tons. As for employment: The peak in 1953 was 650,000 steel workers. Today, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, there are about 140,000.
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