Tariffs on aluminum and steel imports are key to revitalizing domestic manufacturing industries, said Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, in a Monday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with co-hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
Combined with regulatory and tax reform for energy production, the implementation of tariffs on aluminum and steel imports will make America a lucrative option for manufacturing operations, said Manning.
“In today’s world, as opposed to ten to twelve years ago, we have the potential to be the dominant energy producer in the world,” said Manning. “Between natural gas, coal, and oil, we have the potential of being the dominant — repeat, dominant — energy producer in the world. That means cheap energy [and] cheap electricity are real possibilities, as opposed to what Obama’s policy was, which was to drive up the cost of electricity. Electricity drives industry. So if you have inexpensive electricity [and] raw materials available — steel, aluminum, things that you build things with — and you have those available in supply and domestically created … and you have a road system, which we have, and you’re close to market, there’s no reason for anybody to build a factory anywhere but in the United States of America, at least to service the American economy. That’s one of the critical pieces of this.”
America doubles or triples its share of global aluminum and steel production via Trump’s economic policies, said Manning.
“The reward is, as opposed to producing 1.5 percent of the world’s steel, the United States creates a vibrant steel industry [and] a vibrant aluminum industry,” Manning stated. “Suddenly, we are able to produce 2.5 percent, 3 percent, 5 percent of [global] steel and aluminum. We’ll have a domestic supply, which makes it a more stable supply.”
Pollak asked Manning why a resurgence in manufacturing had not occurred during the second Bush administration’s imposition of steel tariffs between 2002 and 2003. According to Manning, President Donald Trump is ushering in a more competitive economic environment than what was seen during the early years of the second Bush presidency.
“We still had a punitive tax policy in place [in 2002 and 2003],” replied Manning. “We didn’t have a robust energy industry, so we were dependent on importing energy at extreme levels, and as a result, a lot of the component parts were not there to rebuild an industry like steel, which is heavily dependent on electricity, which is an intensive industry in terms of labor costs and the costs of building those factories. What we have now is a different environment because of the tax reform, which Paul Ryan was instrumental in getting.”
Manning continued, “We now have a competitive tax environment because of President Trump’s aggressive dismantling of Obama’s regulations. We have a much more competitive regulatory environment, at least compared to five years ago. … We have a vision at the top of wanting not just a temporary fix, but to really create an environment where industries can thrive. [We are] identifying key industries like the steel [and] aluminum industries that have really dwindled over the last twenty years … as key components that need to be secure and need be growing within our country. We now have an economic plan that’s geared towards trying to allow those industries to build. President Bush was never committed to using [steel tariffs] as a means to cause more steel factories to grow. It was a political maneuver, as proved by the short-term nature of [the Bush-era tariffs]. This is not a political maneuver [by Donald Trump].”
China avoided existing tariffs on aluminum imports via transshipping — a term used to describe the surreptitious movement of goods to hide their origins — its aluminum to America via Mexico, said Manning.
Last week, Curtis Ellis, senior policy adviser for America First Policies, similarly pointed to Mexico’s use of transshipping in an interview with Mansour and Pollak on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight. “China has overproduced its steel [and] aluminum, and they have gamed the system again [by] stockpiling aluminum in the Mexican desert, transshipping it through Mexico and through Canada, taking advantage of the low tariff rates, thanks to NAFTA.”
Manning pointed to a report from the Wall Street Journal detailing allegations of China’s use of transshipping to facilitate its dumping of aluminum and steel.
“Let me just give you a simple thing that’s happened with aluminum. This was in the Wall Street Journal, hardly a newspaper that’s well-known for supporting protectionist policies or for increased tariffs. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal reported about nine months ago,” said Manning. “In Mexico, they found a massive storage facility which turned out to be owned by a major Chinese aluminum producer, where they had stored an incredible amount of aluminum that was just across the border that would be exported as if it was being exported from Mexico under NAFTA rather than from China directly. They did it that way so they could benefit from the lower NAFTA tariffs and to hide the amount of exported aluminum from China directly to the United States by funneling it through other countries so it appears as though China wasn’t cornering the market through a dumping policy. That’s what they did, and that’s what they’ve done with steel.”
Unchanged, the status quo of aluminum and steel trade will eliminate America’s aluminum and steel industries and affiliated manufacturing, Manning said. “If we continue doing the same thing that we’ve been doing, we know the results. And the results will be, we won’t have a steel or aluminum industry. We know we won’t have a factory base if we keep doing the same thing.”
“Globalists” are unconcerned with the plight of non-coastal Americans who do not work in the technology or finance industries, according to Manning. Trump’s policies will benefit those who “make stuff,” “grow things,” and “take things out of the ground,” he added.
“[Degrading America’s manufacturing industries] is okay to people who believe in globalism because they believe that’s a more vibrant system where resources are allocated more effectively,” Manning said. “I would argue that they’re wrong because they’re not dealing with real-world situations, and it also has the impact of lowering average U.S. wages on the whole [because] a vast number of people don’t work on the coasts in tech or in finance. The vast majority of people have to work in places where they make stuff or they grow things or they take things out of the ground. And those things are the things we’ve exported and made illegal here in America by virtue of our environmental laws, our tax laws, and it makes more sense to do it elsewhere and to transfer the environmental risk elsewhere. We’ve basically hollowed out America in many respects, and by doing that, we’ve created a problem in our country, and Donald Trump was the answer to that problem, and the people who created it, they think it’s actually good that those things have occurred, and those people should just move to the city.”
Asked by Pollak about increased costs of living for Americans via tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, Manning was dismissive.
“For all those people worrying about price Armageddon, this is equivalent to about a penny-and-a-half on a six-pack of Coors,” Manning said. “It’s about $35-70 on a vehicle, on a car – increased cost due to the tariff.”
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.