Leebow: Make America Great Again by Leveling Steel Playing Field Again
For decades, previous administrations led by both political parties failed to address our trade challenges with adequate resolve. President Donald J. Trump has distinguished himself as a champion for workers with an unshakable commitment to leveling the playing field for American steel.
As we approach his first full year in office, the industry stands ready to help turn that commitment into action. President Trump’s leadership can help ensure that the steel that made America great is part of making America great again.
Since the industrial age, every great nation has shared the commonality of a thriving steel industry. Yet, the culture of inaction among Washington bureaucrats – one that President Trump is working tirelessly to change – puts rust on American steel. Despite the United States filing more than 150 trade cases against bad actors, steel imports often heavily subsidized by foreign governments continue to flood our country at all-time highs. The historic levels of foreign imports, which recently hit 28 percent of all consumption, ultimately impacts 100 percent of the domestic market.
As president and CEO of Majestic Steel USA, an Ohio-based steel service center and one of the largest buyers and sellers of steel in America, we have the choice to source foreign or domestic product. We proudly choose to support the domestic industry by buying over 95 percent of our product in the United States despite the incentive to purchase subsidized imports from bad actors abroad. Given the historical lack of government support and the continued challenges our domestic steel industry faces, that is becoming an increasingly difficult decision to make. We therefore need immediate action to support President Trump’s critical initiative to Buy American and Hire American.
Majestic’s unique perspective on the fifty-yard line allows me to assess the reality of the global steel landscape: America is not operating on an equal playing field but on a rigged dumping ground. While our domestic industry is playing the same game as our foreign counterparts, we aren’t playing by the same set of rules. If we continue to let this happen, the United States will lose the trade war and as a result, continue to forfeit our industry and the jobs it creates. Given a fair playing field, there is no better country in the world to make steel and manufactured products than America.
As foreign governments circumvent international trade laws, the United States cannot circumvent our responsibility to our own steel industry. We must combat those unfair trade practices. In June of last year, Trump himself put it best: “When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians have proven, folks, have proven they do nothing.”
By taking swift action against the illegal importation of foreign steel with tools already at his disposal, such as Section 232, President Trump can achieve what past administrations could not by empowering American steelworkers to win again.
To restore the right to compete fairly on the global stage, citizens should expect from politicians the same standard consumers expect from steel: the ability to withstand even the most powerful pressure. A change agent who ignited a movement built upon that very principle, President Trump has demonstrated his determination to put one special interest above all: the American worker.
With the use of Section 232 – America’s Trump card – the administration can deal a victory for our workers in the trade war launched against us. And Mr. President, American steel is ready to help make that happen.
Todd Leebow is the CEO of Majestic Steel in Cleveland, Ohio.