Thursday, March 07, 2002

Advocates of free trade have been somewhat alarmed by Dubya's steel tariff. But in another way, it's of a piece with other administration policy.

Take another foreign trade item --- Dubya's proposal to have the federal government take over the protection money payments that Occidental Petroleum has been paying for years to the Colombian Army, dragging the United States deeper into a civil war, while relieving Oxy of the costs of doing business.

Or take the Superfund, which was originally set up to fund cleanup of industrial wastes by contributions from the polluters. The basic economic idea is sound --- put the costs of pollution onto the balance sheets of industries that pollute. But it's evidently not to Dubya's taste; the fund has run dry, and he's proposing to refinance it out of general tax revenues. (Though, to be fair, this could be more precisely described as the continuation of a policy which began when the Republican House leadership blocked renewal of the taxes on polluting businesses which were funding the Superfund in 1995).

Or take the $15 billion federal airline bailout, which sent all the money to the airlines (which were already in trouble due to plain old bad business decisions), and none at all for the workers who had lost their jobs.

So, remember --- Dubya favors the discipline of the marketplace, and opposes the use of government tax power to transfer wealth. To the poor.


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