While President Bush has scored some major successes for free trade, still the steel tariffs loom large. I suspect that this is more because of iconography than the actual tarrifs (although the economic effect of them is clearly negative). The problem is that there simply doesn’t appear to be any political advantage to them for the Bush administration. The tariffs cost jobs while benefitting a very narrow segment of economy that heavily supports the Democrats. The question nags like a bad tooth - why is Bush taking heat in order to benefit the Democratic Party and some of its constituents? It would be a different issue if there was something in it for Bush or the Republicans. You can either assume Bush is stupid, that there is some non-apparent motive or that Bush really thinks that these kind of tariffs are a good idea. We’ll have a better idea in a few weeks when Bush has the opportunity to drop the tariffs under cover of boosting the economy and drops an albatross that has brought him and his party no benefits. It would be an excellent opportunity to use the bully pulpit to show why protectionism is a loser for the American economy.