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Did Donald Trump Betray Steelworkers?

December 25, 2017
Plain English Version

What a Bethlehem Steel Plant looked like at its peak.

Some steelworkers who voted for Donald Trump face a surprise. Steelworkers in Conshohocken, Pa. are losing their jobs. Their plant is laying off most of its workers.

It seems that that Trump’s plan to bring jobs back to America has its limits. Steel is a good example. The steel products made in other countries are better and cheaper than steel made in America.

Part of the reason is that new steel factories were built overseas and not in America. American companies bought their steel from those new factories. Without sales, U.S. factories started to close.

Candidate Trump said he would put a tariff (tax) on imported steel. As President, he has not. Why not? One reason is that American companies do not want to pay more for the steel they buy. They say it would raise prices of the products they make from steel. They say that is not good for their businesses.

Some companies fear that if President Trump now imposed a tariff, it would raise the cost of steel. So they have already bought as much as they could. That meant there is a great deal of steel already in the U.S. today. The demand for steel has now gone down.

In the business, world success comes from good planning. Candidate Trump’s plan gave owners a signal. President Trump’s advisors felt that putting a tariff on foreign steel would not result in increased factories and jobs in America.

The layoffs have stunned many workers who voted for Trump. They thought his election would bring a new dawn to the steel industry. They believed that is what Trump’s “Buy America” was all about.

In early June, Trump told a crowd, “Wait till you see what I’m going to do for steel and your steel companies. We’ll be seeing that very soon. The steel folks are going to be very happy.”

He vowed that he would “stop the dumping” of products at super low prices by other nations.

But the announcement of a tariff on imported steel never came. Why? The only people who might have been helped were steelworkers. To Trump, they were voters. He told them what they wanted to hear.

Companies in America and around the world saw his campaign vows in a different way. They believe such a tariff would get in the way of business. Nobody wanted that. And that includes many who work in his administration.

The American economy may do well in the months ahead. It will not be because old American factories reopened and rehired workers.

Source: The New York Times December 22, 2017


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