With sparks flying from a cauldron of controversy, thousands of union steelworkers descended on Washington, D.C., Feb. 28 to lobby Pres. Bush for high tariffs on imported steel. At press time, the White House was expected to make its "delicate" decision on March 6.
On one side, domestic steelmakers have long argued that cheap imports have been decimating U.S. steel-making capacity, causing layoffs and even bankruptcies. They also point to Pres. Bush's campaign promises in 2000 to be the industry's ally, as well as post-Sept. 11 national security concerns to make the nation more self-reliant. So, they want import tariffs as high as 40 percent.
Opposed are large steel consumers and pro-trade representatives. For his part, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan weighed in on the issue Feb. 27 before Congress. He told lawmakers that higher steel prices for imports could hurt both our "international trade posture," as well as consumers, more than they would help U.S. steelmakers.
As Greenspan was testifying, steel workers in Cleveland were rejoicing at the news that bankrupt local giant LTV Corp. had finally chosen a buyer for its assets and would likely reopen several idled mills this year, enough to put some 1,400 back to work. On Feb. 27, LTV announced that it had selected WL Ross & Co., New York City, as "the best and highest bidder" for its assets.
On Feb. 28, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Cleveland gave its blessing to the estimated $300-million deal.