President Obama continues to use what Jonathan Adler calls “Orwellian doublespeak” to defend his decision to slap a tariff on imported Chinese tires.
In an interview with Bloomberg, he said “We’ve got to establish credibility and enforcement of the rules precisely because I want to further expand trade.”
That just makes no sense at all. A tariff to protect one industry is precisely how you lose credibility and diminish trade. There’s a reason China’s already running to the WTO screaming “abuse,” and why other non-tire industries begged the President not to make the move. It hurts credibility.
And it’s just not true, as Brad Delong pointed out yesterday that Obama was compelled under the law to impose the tariff:
…Meyerson says, not to impose the tariff would violate the rule of law:
The ITC found this a clear violation of a provision in the Trade Act (Section 421), added with Beijing’s consent during the negotiations preceding Congress’s 2000 enactment of Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with China…
China isn’t doing anything wrong. For Chinese manufactures to sell us tires is not against the law. To say that China has committed a “clear violation” of the law is to badly misstate the case.
What is the case is that:
Section 421… allowed the U.S. government to levy tariffs on surging Chinese imports that were eviscerating an American industry… [and it] was a key argument in persuading Congress to permanently normalize trade relations…
§421 gives the U.S. the right to impose tariffs in response to a surge. It doesn’t make the surge a crime, or a violation. And it doesn’t require the U.S. to impose tariffs–especially if imposing them would be a really bad idea for U.S. consumers.