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Your Opinion: Playing the 'long game' with tariffs

Your Opinion: Playing the 'long game' with tariffs

August 10th, 2018 by Bert Dirschell, Centertown in Opinion

Dear Editor:

I applaud President Trump's efforts to play the "long game." Tariffs might cause us some short term pain but if the results are real free trade, they will hopefully prove to be beneficial for our grandchildren.

In 2017 the U.S. imported 34.6 million metric tons of steel, 42 percent of that (14.6 metric tons) came from the EU, Canada, Mexico and China. Domestically we produced 81.6 million metric tons of steel. Our steel production facilities are currently running below 80 percent capacity. In 2004 they ran at over 90 percent capacity. In 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2007 domestic annual production averaged 98 million metric tons. We have a lot of unused steel production capacity.

Eight U.S.-based aluminum smelters have either closed or curtailed production since 2014. Only two of the five currently operating smelters are operating at capacity. While we don't have enough "reserve capacity" to make up for all imports we can make a small dent in it by putting more Americans back to work.

I support free trade, not protectionism. If temporary tariffs are what it takes to get the attention of the rest of the world, and help the U.S. negotiate better trade deals, then I support them.

Subsidy, as defined by Merriam-Webster — a grant or gift of money. When government subsidizes an industry so that it can sell its product at a lower price than similar products produced by other nations, it is an unfair practice.

Is there a more heavily subsidized industry in the world than American agriculture?

The federal government hands out over $20 billion a year in farm subsidies. 39 percent of our 2.1 million farms receive subsidies. Over the past five years just crop insurance subsidies have cost U.S. taxpayers more than $8 billion a year. Parker Brothers Farm, Sikeston, Missouri, collected $860,000 in total subsidies in 2016 alone. Seven Missouri farm corporation received over $500,000 each just in 2016. From 1995-2016 Missouri Delta Farms, Sikeston received over $25 million. Nine Missouri farm corporations each received over $5 million during that time period. In just 2016 farm corporations in the top eight farm welfare states received between $419 million and $931 million.

Farm subsidies are just one of the many schemes greedy politicians work to get their palms greased with campaign contributions.