An Open Letter To President Bush

Dear President Bush,

The recent WTO ruling against the current steel tariffs has given you a great opportunity. I hope that you will take advantage of it and comply with the ruling by removing the tariffs.

I understand that the tariffs were an attempt to win political support from members of the steel industry in states important to your re-election. But, you must know that they are a drag on the economy, costing more jobs than they protect, raising prices of consumer products, and risking retaliatory trade restrictions. This is a wealth transfer whose continuation is not in the best interest of the nation.

The recent ruling is a chance for you to correct this policy with political cover. It is a chance to show the world that you are, indeed, interested in multilateral cooperation, and in respecting the decisions of a collective body that we have agreed would settle issues like this.

You can tell the steel industry that they have had a period of protection, and you hope that they used it to become more competitive. Say that you would have liked to have had more control over when the tariffs would end, but events have made that impossible.

Any voters who might turn against you for this stand are not supporters you could have relied upon anyway. Others will respect this decision and understand that you’re putting a priority on international cooperation and the economic philosophy you believe in, rather than unprincipled political calculations.

I hope you will recognize this opportunity and do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Gil Milbauer

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