Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey is an America First bull when it comes to protecting from ridiculous international actors and actions the United States steel industry. And has been for decades.
And no wonder. Steel is a bit of a thing in Pennsylvania. There’s even an NFL team named after the industry’s employees. And lots of his constituents do indeed work in the industry.
But many, many more used to do so. Ridiculous international actors and actions have undercut Toomey’s state’s steel – so Toomey has long gone to bat for it and them. And God bless him – he was and is exactly right to do so.
Because if other steel-producing nations are blocking our steel, subsidizing theirs and flooding our market – that trade has absolutely nothing to do with actual free trade.
Why, then, isn’t Toomey capable of seeing the exact same international inanities doing damage to other U.S. industries?
Toomey’s decades of protecting U.S. steel – overlays nigh perfectly with the defense of another group of Americans in which I and others have long been engaged – sugar farmers.
Get this steel language – in which Toomey took an active stake (emphasis ours):
Brown Seeks Protection of U.S. Steel Industry: “U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, vice chairman of the Senate Steel Caucus, called for greater efforts to protect domestic steel producers at a meeting Thursday of the caucus and senior steel executives that focused on the state of the industry.
“Specifically, his concern is ‘the scourge of foreign competitors whose unfair and illegal trade practices put U.S. companies, including several based in Ohio, at an unfair disadvantage in the international market’….
“‘As our trade deficit continues to widen, our need to level the playing field for domestic steel producers becomes more urgent,’ Brown to the industry executives. ‘Our workers can compete with anyone in the world when on a level playing field. That is why we must enforce international law and impose import duties to counteract illegal trade practices from foreign competitors like China.’
“With Brown were Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Pat Toomey, R-Pa.”
All of which is very Donald Trump-ian. And is nigh identical to what we have repeatedly written about international sugar trade:
“We get our government out of the way of other nations’ products. While allowing other nations to tax and otherwise impede our products. We (mostly) keep the government out of our internal production for export. While other nations subsidize the daylight out of theirs – which obviously affords them a gross, distorted advantage on the world market….
“We have bizarrely agreed to really bad deals with our southern neighbor on, amongst other things, sugar. Mexico is the biggest sugar importer into the United States.
“But the Mexican government subsidizes their sugar like crazy. Which obviously entices Mexicans to grow way too much sugar. Which in turn obviously overloads the global market. Which when we import that glut of subsidized product – obviously damages our domestic producers.
“Then in 2013, as if to rub our noses in it, Mexico – in violation of our existing agreement – dumped two million tons of their subsidized sugar on us. Further damaging our domestic producers.”
You’re just a “sugar-steel” and “China-Mexico” Replace All away – from near complete language unanimity.
Why then is Toomey so actively hostile to sugar farmers – who have but a tiny fraction of the protection his steelers enjoy?
Toomey’s latest farmer assault is a bill – currently entitled “The Sugar Policy Modernization Act of 2017” (co-authored with New Hampshire Democrat Senator Jean Shaheen). Which he is currently sending around the Senate – in search of co-sponsors.
Currently, sugar farmers get from the government – crop loans. That are repaid – with interest. (No direct subsidy checks.) Toomey wants to kill completely the loans – with no reform at all of any of the mass international inanities to which our farmers our subjected.
Which sounds exactly like the sort of dumb unilateral disarmament policy – to which Toomey has for decades been rightly opposed in the steel industry.
So why Toomey’s extraordinary policy schizophrenia?
Pat Toomey: The Senate’s ‘Candy Man’: “The first-term senator said he plans to fill the desk with ‘Pennsylvania’s finest chocolate and deliciousness to ensure a surplus of sweets,’ including Hershey’s (based in Central Pennsylvania), Three Musketeers (made by Mars in Elizabethtown) and Peeps (from Bethlehem-based Just Born).”
Of course. Toomey’s state is the home to more than just steel. Meet Big Candy.
The Candyman Can: “(T)he National Confectioners Association (NCA)…is not an ordinary workplace. The Georgetown office serves as the headquarters for Big Candy….
“The group is working to develop a stronger political action committee to make contributions and ratchet up its advocacy efforts with lawmakers.…
“This is manifesting itself most clearly in the confectionery industry’s largest policy brawl: The fight over the federal sugar program. The NCA has already started discussions on how to be a more forceful advocate for ending the program.”
And Toomey appears to be thusly malleable.
We can think of nigh nothing else to possibly explain Toomey’s whiplash-inducing steeler-sugar farmer disconnection.
This first appeared in Red State.