THANKS A LOT, WTO….A few years ago we had a little spat with the EU over the taxation of multinational corporations. The case went to the WTO, we lost, and Congress then took up the task of fixing our tax laws to comply with the WTO ruling.
The result, in retrospect, was predictable given the way Republicans react to just about everything these days: in what way, they asked themselves, can this problem be turned into a way to help out all of our big corporate donors?
The answer was pretty simple: craft a bill that ends the tax break as mandated by the WTO, but replaces it with a laundry list of tax breaks worth twice as much for favored industries. In other words, a technical dispute with Europe was swiftly turned into an excuse to continue the Republican tax cut jihad. What a surprise.
Now the WTO has struck again, ruling that George Bush’s Pennsylvania And West Virginia Vote Protection Act of 2002, aka steel tariffs, violates international trade law. Normally this would be good news, since the steel tariffs were bad policy, but I think I’ll wait for the other shoe to drop before I breathe a sigh of relief. After all, how long do you think it will take for this to be used as an excuse to enact yet another bevy of corporate welfare handouts? And this time maybe they’ll be able to do it right and shovel a bunch of taxpayer dough to both the steel industry and the steel consumers, who were so unhappy with the tariffs in the first place.
My guess: the tariffs will go, but a few weeks later they’ll get replaced with something a bit more subtle and far ranging. Watch the legislative calendar closely….