FREE TRADE….Yesterday I speculated that the Bush administration would use the WTO ruling against steel tariffs as an excuse for some kind of broad overhaul designed to boost their electoral prospects even more than the original tariffs.

Via Dan Drezner, today we learn that this is apparently exactly what’s being planned:

The US is considering a radical change to its laws on unfair trade that would severely penalise importers even if Washington bows to the World Trade Organisation’s demands that it remove tariffs on foreign steel.

The complex methodological change would sharply raise the duties on steel imports that are also subject to separate anti-dumping tariffs.

That didn’t take long. Apparently this was in the planning stages back in September, before the WTO even officially ruled.

Slightly off topic, Dan also says this about Bush’s weak-kneed trade views: “The depressing fact — that’s still better than any of the Democratic candidates for president.” This is a bit of a cheap shot since the link is to a post solely about Dick Gephardt, probably the least trade friendly Democratic candidate out there ? although it’s true that the Democrats are sounding rather more sincere in their anti-trade views this year than I’d like.

On the other hand, although Wes Clark hasn’t produced a definitive statement about his views on trade, this summary makes him sound relatively broadminded on the subject.

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