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Yet another Xmas present for American workers

WTO legislation sneaks by in the infamous Cheney tie-breaker 51-50 vote!

Everyone knows that Cheney flew in to cast a tie-breaker vote, December 21, for the budget resolution that trounced students and poor people generally. But almost no one has noticed that the WTO got what THEY wanted! How's that for a Christmas present for the working people of America?

Here are the details:
Everyone knows that Cheney flew in to cast a tie-breaker vote, December 21, for the budget resolution that trounced students and poor people generally. But almost no one has noticed that the WTO got what THEY wanted!

Remember the Byrd amendment that Senator Byrd first introduced about 5 years ago to reclaim jurisdiction over how trade penalty moneys are distributed WITHIN the United States? If you are really watching trade issues, you might know that the WTO ruled that the Byrd amendment was illegal, even though it isn't ruled out by any of the trade agreements entered into by the U.S. through fast-track legislation. And you might even know that a couple of years ago, in the fever of an election year, Congress enacted a law that codified the Byrd amendment -- the "Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act (CDSOA)".

But did you know - has anyone noticed? - that the recent infamous budget resolution (also known as "Work, Marriage, and Family Promotion Reconciliation Act of 2005") also repealed the CDSOA?

In an excess of hypocrisy, the Senate had voted its support of the CDSOA just days before -- on December 15 -- in the form of a successful motion by Senator DeWine (R- Ohio). Somehow, within just one week, all but 5 of about 30 Republicans who had been for the CDSOA on December 15 became converted to the WTO position when it came to the vote on December 21. No Democrat was similarly converted, and both Oregon senators - including Gordon Smith - remained firm in rejecting the WTO infringement of the sovereignty of the United States.


Not so many people appreciate that Oregon Senator Gordon Smith broke with the Republican leadership to create the December 21 tie in the first place, joining four other Republicans to bring the opposition number up to 50. Smith basically voted earlier for the cuts, back on April 28, when the conference report came from the House for approval by the Senate, and again on November 3, (Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 2005 ), when 5 Republicans joined the Democrats and one Independent, but Smith stayed with the Republican majority. If Nelson of Nebraska had not defected and Corzine had voted, the opposition would have had 49 votes back in November -- and that could have become a 50-50 tie if Smith had switched over for that vote. We have to wonder what changed from November to December. Could the trade issue, impinging on the matter of American sovereignty, have been the deciding factor in Gordon Smith deciding that he could not continue to go along with the Republican leadership in the Senate?


News release dated December 15, 2005 --

The United States Senate . . . voted overwhelmingly in support of a law that works to offset the cost of illegally dumped and subsidized foreign products in American markets.

"The Senate has put the White House on notice: American working families should not be sacrificed at the altar of free trade," U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said after the vote.

Byrd and Republican Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio are fighting an effort by the Bush Administration, with the support of the Republican Congressional Leadership, to undermine American manufacturers and allow foreign traders to illegally dump products on U.S. markets.

The effort to repeal this law comes on the heels of World Trade Organization rulings that claim the CDSOA violates trade rules. However, no trade agreement that the United States has joined prohibits the Byrd Amendment. Senators DeWine and Byrd are confident that the Constitution does not allow an international entity to instruct the United States Congress on how funds can be distributed by the U.S. Treasury.

In response to the misguided WTO rulings, Byrd won Congressional approval of legislation instructing the Bush Administration to add the terms of the CDSOA to existing international trade agreements. Despite this Congressional directive's being signed into law, the Bush Administration has failed substantively to address the CDSOA in trade talks.

"Now is not the time to weaken the hand of our trade negotiators by attempting to repeal one of our nation's most effective trade laws. In fact, now is the time to hold foreign unfair traders more accountable, not less," Byrd said.

New release dated December 20, 2005 --

Senator Byrd on Tuesday said that the Republican Congress and the White House have undercut working families in order to satisfy the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"The Republican Congressional Leadership and the Bush Administration have made it clear where they stand: They stand with foreign trade bureaucrats and not with the working people of this country who suffer from illegal foreign trade," Byrd said.

Last week, the Senate voted overwhelmingly -- 71-20 -- to back the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act (CDSOA), more commonly called the Byrd Amendment. But, in the final budget package negotiated between the House and Senate Republican Leadership, the CDSOA is repealed after two years.

"CDSOA was enacted to restore conditions of fair trade, so that jobs that should stay in the United States are not destroyed by unfair foreign competition," Byrd stated on Tuesday. "Now is the time to hold foreign unfair traders more accountable, not less! There is no need to repeal the law today, two years from now, or ever."

"If our trading partners don't like this trade law, the solution is not to repeal the law. If our trading partners are offended by the law, I have only two words for them: Stop dumping!" Byrd argued.

The Byrd Amendment is a corporate subsidy 26.Dec.2005 15:44


It doesn't do anything to prevent dumping and all it does is funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to a few well connected corporations. Whatever you think about the WTO, this law is bad for workers and just another handout to corporations.

Congress should repeal the Byrd Amendment. Repeal would do away with one of the most egregious current examples of corporate welfare, totaling more than $1 billion to date with no strings attached. Repeal would not affect the operation of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws, but would keep the revenue collected from such actions where it belongs—in the government's hands, to be spent on more urgent needs.

Byrd Amendment Distributions of $1 Million or More
Fiscal Year 2004

By Company:

The Timken Company Bearings $52,673,229
Lancaster Colony Corp. Candles 26,225,555
MPB Corporation Bearings 13,190,858
Micron Technology DRAMS 11,959,014
Emerson Power Transmission Corp. Bearings 11,644,319
International Steel Group Steel products 10,374,465
Home Fragrance Holdings Candles 8,424,904
Wellman Polyester staple fibers 7,885,970
United States Steel Corp. Steel products 7,123,402
AK Steel Steel products 6,835,892
Holcim US Inc. Cement 4,725,685
North American Stainless Steel products 4,703,744
Lafarge North America Cement 4,633,793
USEC, Inc. Uranium 4,401,004
Sanford Corporation Pencils 4,189,674
Meunch Creuzer Candle Co. Candles 4,029,537
Carpenter Technology Steel products 3,676,773
Maverick Tube Corp. Steel products 3,632,582
A. I. Root Company Candles 3,098,689
Reed Candle Candles 2,885,737
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Industrial belts 2,859,797
Ash Grove Cement Cement 2,822,221
Allegheny Ludlum Steel products 2,529,731
Gates Corporation Industrial belts 2,538,305
Lehigh Cement Cement 2,094,534
Wheatland Tube Steel products 1,873,823
Riverside Cement Cement 1,794,895
Lumi-Lite Candle Co. Candles 1,698,887
Maui Pineapple Canned pineapple 1,658,695
J&L Specialty Steel Steel products 1,513,297
Nucor Steel products 1,635,971
Columbian Home Products Cooking ware 1,487,194
Allied Tube and Conduit Steel products 1,395,333
ISPAT Inland Steel Steel products 1,635,971
Invista, SARL Polyester staple fiber 1,267,217
Dixon Ticonderoga Co. Pencils 1,113,853
McGill Manufacturing Co. Bearings 1,098,066
American Pasta Co Pasta 1,043,616
Candle and Baumer Candles 1,088,983
Cathedral Candle Candles 1,072,749
Sioux Honey Association Honey 1,068,405
New World Pasta Pasta 1,050,611
Meco Corporation Folding metal tables 1,050,611
Gerdau USA Inc. Steel products 1,027,833

Total, Million Dollar Club by Company
Share of Total Distributions ($284,124,933) 82.6%

By Sector:

Steel-containing products $80,509,017
of which, bearings 79,147,978
Steel products 58,055,728
Candles 51,391,920
Cement 21,293,059
Food products 16,663,996
Computer chips 11,964,989
Polyester staple fiber 9,611,569
Pencils 6,731,272
Industrial belts 5,398,103
Softwood lumber 5,378,613
Uranium 4,401,004
Chemicals 2,239,671
Cooking ware 2,100,359
Axes and adzes 1,662,661
Automotive replacement glass 1,300,757
Iron-containing products 1,155,999
Folding metal tables 1,050,611

Total, Million Dollar Club by Sector
Share of Total Distributions ($284,124,933) 98.9%

Source: The Trade Partnership from Customs and Border Protection data.

Total Byrd Amendment Disbursements to Date

Fiscal Year 2004 $284,124,933
Fiscal Year 2003 190,247,425
Fiscal Year 2002 329,871,464
Fiscal Year 2001 231,201,891
TOTAL, Year to date $1,035,445,713

Source: Customs and Border Protection

NOT a subsidy except in WTO new-speak 28.Dec.2005 16:41

g.d. dem

First, you allege that CDSOA is a subsidy of "hundreds of millions of dollars to a few well connected corporations." Then you itemize about 50, mostly small corporations, with no substantiation that these are particularly "well connected". I don't see Big Oil on the list. I don't see anything going to the best connected corporations -- energy, armaments, drugs, insurance and financial sectors. Well-connected corporations in those sectors receive subsidies from American taxpayers, in return for making huge political campaign contributions, thereby taking money away from social programs!

CDSOA "subsidies" derive from penalties against foreign producers that dump in the U.S. in order to drive out competitors and establish global monopolies. The penalties awarded come from foreign countries, not from U.S taxpayers. These penalty awards should not be termed "subsidies" at all -- rather these moneys are compensatory damages for losses caused by illegal dumping.

Are you really alleging that these companies corruptly contributed big money to the Bush campaign in exchange for awards under CDSOA? --

A. I. Root Company Candles ($ 3,098,689) ?

Reed Candle Candles ($ 2,885,737) ?

The idea of the Bush amendment is to assert the right of the United States to distribute WTO-administered penalties within the U.S. as Congress directs. Maybe Congress could have distributed the penalties in some better way, but the idea of the Byrd Amendment is that producers that were damaged by the dumping are the logical recipients of penalties leveled against the offending dumpers. The WTO doesn't like that idea, because the WTO does not approve of "subsidies" and has arbitrarily decided that penalties for dumping fall within that category -- but then, if I am injured by a foreign corporation and receive a jury award for damages, is that a subsidy?

The real reason that the WTO has found against the Byrd Amendment - by way of calling a damage award a "subsidy" - is because the WTO is committed to the elimination of national sovereignty in favor of global capital and strengthening global monopolies.

pardon the typo . . . I've got 'Bush on the mind' disease 28.Dec.2005 17:02

g.d. dem

I didn't mean "Bush amendment" -- of course, I meant "Byrd amendment".

Alternatives to the Byrd Amendment 28.Dec.2005 19:32


In 2004 alone, only 2 companies got over $25 million from the program and only 6 got over $10 million. That concentrated benefit is even worse over the life of the program. How you can claim that this doesn't help a few corporations at everyone else's expense is beyond me.

And yes - it doesn't go to oil or defense, it goes to manufacturers. But its a handout to large corporations nonetheless and only to those with the resources to make the very complicated application proving harm.

Instead, Congress could easily direct the funds collected as anti-dumping duties towards the workers or health care or unemployment insurance. But don't give it out to a few big businesses, even if a candle company or two benefits.

If these particular corporations . . . 28.Dec.2005 22:13

g.d. dem

. . . are as big and well-connected as you say, how is it that CDSOA lost out in the backroom dealing of the big budget resolution? Just something for you to think about . . . maybe your logic is a little weak?

However, I agree that the penalty money from foreign companies could be better allocated, except that the WTO would not allow that anymore than it allows distribution under the Byrd Amendment. The way it has been working, the WTO has been figuring out counter-penalties against the U.S. or other ways of undoing the Byrd Amendment. What I believe has happened is that part of the behind-the-scenes deals struck in Hong Kong was a secret commitment by the Bush administration to torpedo the Byrd Amendment because it was a clear denial by the U.S. of the WTO's right (that is, the right of global capital) to rule out any and all democratic controls by any nation, not just the United States.

The big issue here is whether we are to have democratic (in our case congressional) control over capital flow by individual nations or whether global capital (WTO) is to be allowed to continue to make law even inside the U.S. The Byrd Amendment concept could be refined, certainly, but FIRST we need to confront global capital -- that's what we (US) were doing until Bush/Cheney managed to sneak repeal of the CDSOA into the budget reconciliation bill.

BTW: I never said that the CDSOA doesn't help a few corporations at everyone else's expense -- in the sense that anytime money is paid out by the government it is at everyone's expense. BUT it is relevant that (1) the moneys come from foreign competitors seeking to establish or strengthen global monopolies, (2) as your list shows, it isn't really just a few big companies that are being protected from the monopoly-building practice of dumping, and, (3) if CDSOA is an example of corporate welfare, it's penny-ante compared with what the oil companies, banks and "defense" contractors got from this congress in 2005.

Nationalism and protectionism 31.Dec.2005 03:31


Nice to see indymedia supporting nationalism and protectionism