The Note

"Whatever effect Mr. Bush's decision has on his re-election campaign in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, it provided him with at least one political victory. By showing that he was willing to use trade barriers to help an industry hurt by global competition, it helped persuade Congress last year to give Mr. Bush the authority to negotiate trade agreements with little interference from Congress, a power that President Bill Clinton had sought for years but failed to get." LINK

Commerce Secretary Don Evans puts a positive spin on the administration's action yesterday and writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that lifting steel tariffs is "a sound decision for the American economy, its companies, and workers."

"This president and his administration remain committed to America's steel industry and its workers," Evans writes. "The successful efforts the industry has made in regaining its international competitiveness need to continue … President Bush's temporary safeguard measures have successfully led to a revamped U.S. steel industry. America's steelworkers can be confident that they are part of a vibrant industry."

The New York Times ' Sanger analyzes the impact that the tariff decision will have on the administration and the WTO, crediting the trade organization that "pinpointed textile mills in the Carolinas and farmers in the Midwest and California with a precision that Karl Rove, the president's political adviser, must have grudgingly admired." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Kornblut looks at the electoral map and writes that the administration's decision on steel tariffs makes sense politically, weighing the 46 electoral votes of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, battleground and steel producing states that would benefit from the tariffs, with the 67 electoral votes of Florida, the Carolinas and Michigan, states that would have been hurt by export taxes in a trade war with Europe. LINK

More from:

The Boston Globe 's Washington: LINK

USA Today 's Cox: LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Chen and Simon: LINK

The Democratic presidential candidates jumped on the steel issue in order to gain an edge in the steel-producing states that are angry with President Bush's decision, Los Angeles Times' Gold reports. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's ed board thinks that the president "deserves applause" for lifting the tariffs to avoid what might have become the biggest trade battle since the Trade Federation invaded Naboo.

"As for the politics, the justification for the tariffs was that they'd help win Mr. Bush points in steel-sensitive states like Pennsylvania. But those votes were always going to have to be weighed against political fallout elsewhere. Higher steel prices cost tens of thousands of American jobs, many in heavy manufacturing (and electoral rich) states like Michigan. Not-so-big steel employs only about 180,000 workers."

The Los Angeles Times' Veith looks at what drove President Bush to his decision on steel:

"Faced with growing opposition from domestic steel consumers and imminent retaliation by foreign trading partners, Bush declared his mission — strengthening the industry — accomplished and lifted the tariffs 15 months ahead of schedule.

Yet to some industry insiders and analysts, the president's announcement sounded more like an admission of defeat, a view shared by several workers in Cleveland, the steel-making center of Ohio." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

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