Steel tariff backfire

Posted: Mar 16, 2002 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON -- The White House, deeply divided over President Bush's imposition of a 30 percent tariff on steel imports, was shocked by the bitter reaction from the country's closest foreign allies. A negative reaction from abroad had been expected by Bush aides, but nothing like the heated criticism actually received -- especially from Britain, the most faithful U.S. ally. That has raised concern about keeping firm the global coalition against terrorism. Almost everybody on the policy side of the White House, as contrasted to the political side, was deeply disappointed by the president's decision. However, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick urged the three-year tariff, and Bush agreed. RUDY'S 'NO' TO NEVADA Rudolph Giuliani turned down an offer from Nevada interests that would have placed him against President Bush in a fierce fight over disposal of nuclear waste. He made clear to the White House he did not want to oppose the president. The Nevada offer would not have specifically cast the former mayor of New York in a lobbyist's role opposing a Bush-backed national waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., but that was clearly the intent of hiring him. Nevada's bipartisan political establishment has joined Senate Democratic leaders in trying to kill the plan in the Senate. A footnote: Kenneth Duberstein, President Ronald Reagan's last chief of staff, has been hired by the state of Nevada as the Republican lobbyist against Yucca. He is twinned with Democratic lobbyist John Podesta, President Bill Clinton's last chief of staff. NON-NEUTRAL BUSH Contrary to reports throughout the conservative movement, President Bush has not pledged neutrality in an impending Tennessee Republican primary for the U.S. Senate between former Gov. Lamar Alexander and Rep. Ed Bryant. Bryant has been quoted as saying the White House would not take sides in finding a successor to Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, who stunned the political world by announcing he would retire from the Senate. Bush political adviser Karl Rove informed Bryant he was mistaken and that the president would keep his options open in the late-developing primary fight. Conservative organizations have begun mobilizing for Bryant. There is little doubt the White House prefers Alexander and fears a bitter primary fight could cost the Republicans a seat in the fight for control of the Senate. BLOOMBERG IN WASHINGTON New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, meeting with the state congressional delegation in quest of federal funds, was rebuked by Rep. Charles Rangel for delivering a searing critique of the city's school system. Rangel, dean of the state delegation, told the mayor he would like to hear something Bloomberg is for instead of just what he is against. Bloomberg responded that he was not about to put up new proposals for Rangel to shoot down but would offer them in time. A footnote: Sen. Charles Schumer arrived for the meeting even before Bloomberg and Sen. Hillary Clinton and long before House members, who were busy with floor votes. When Bloomberg appeared, Schumer ushered him into a room for an exclusive conversation. The senator then trumpeted that the mayor had conferred with him privately. "Bloomberg has been 'Schumed,' " said a House Democrat from New York. INVITATION FROM ALASKA The Inupiat Eskimos, who support "responsible drilling" in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), five weeks ago invited anti-drilling Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John Kerry of Massachusetts to visit them in Kaktovik, Alaska, on ANWR's coastal plain. No reply has been received as of this writing, "For us," Inupiat leaders Fenton Rexford and Eve Ahlers wrote, "responsible development means the right to live healthy and productive lives. It means flush toilets and running water, two elements key to sanitary living conditions." The Inupiats concluded that the senators' failure to respond means they "place more value on rhetoric and propaganda than on human life." Aides to Lieberman and Kerry told this column they were scheduled to visit ANWR but had to cancel. They indicated both senators would like to go but doubted they could find time.