George Landrith

If union bosses and a few industrial titans have their way, a hearing in a Washington, D.C. bureaucratic back room this week will lead to higher prices on ordinary daily goods for virtually every consumer in America.

On September 16, the Department of Commerce International Trade Commission will hold a hearing to decide if foreign paper is simply too cheap. And by that the government means to decide whether foreign suppliers of some pulp and paper products have “dumped” their products, which means they sell them at unfairly low prices.

That the hearing is taking place is something of a coup. A similar complaint was filed by a colluding cadre of unions and paper and pulp makers a few years ago and dismissed because domestic companies had not been harmed.

But the groups are back at it, hoping a different administration and an improved playbook will carry the day. To most Americans, already hit hard by a down economy, nothing seems more natural than being suspicious of foreign companies. After all, they’re the devil we don’t know.

What’s more interesting is that these fears are being exploited by the devils we do -- the pushers of a new “green protectionism.”How do we know Americans are worried about foreign competitors and products ranging from paper to tires and more? Well, a poll from the “Alliance for American Manufacturing” tells us so. Haven’t heard of that group? Here are the basics: It’s a joint effort of the United Steelworkers union and a handful of U.S. companies apparently tired of the rigors of a competitive marketplace. Its creators have deep pockets and a deeper interest in keeping out competition.

The “Alliance” -- whose head is a longtime union lobbyist -- funded the key economic “study” that triggered the government’s review of paper prices, and the document was put together by a “think tank” known as the Economic Policy Institute. That group has at least 10 of the nation’s biggest union bosses as its board of directors and has acknowledged a third of its funding has come from labor unions. And don’t forget that EPI took in a cool $100,000 from the Steelworkers in 2009.

About 100 politicians then referenced that “study” in a letter asking the president to support action against foreign competitors.

Look beyond the specifics of the case and one thing is abundantly clear: the public is likely to get skewered because far-left special interests in the Big Labor and Big Environment camps have figured out how to rig backroom hearings.

George Landrith

George Landrith is President of Frontiers of Freedom. Frontiers of Freedom was founded in 1994 by U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop and is an educational institute whose mission is to promote conservative public policy based on the principles of individual freedom, peace through strength, limited government, free enterprise, and traditional American values as found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.