Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

U.S. steel industry urges “buy America” recovery plan


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The ailing U.S. steel industry is pressing President-elect Barack Obama for a public works plan that could be worth $1 trillion over two years to boost flagging demand for U.S.-made steel, the New York Times reported in Friday’s editions.

Daniel DiMicco, chairman and chief executive of Nucor Corp, a giant steel maker, told the paper the industry was asking the incoming administration to “deal with the worst economic slowdown in our lifetime through a recovery program that has in every provision a ‘buy America’ clause.”

The industry supports building mass transit systems, bridges, electric power grids, schools, hospitals and water treatment plants ## all of which would require large amounts of steel.

“We are sharing with the president-elect’s transition team our thoughts in terms of the industry’s policy priorities,” Nancy Gravatt, a spokeswoman for the American Iron and Steel Institute, was quoted as saying.

Obama, who is to be sworn in as president on January 20, has not revealed details of his soon-to-be-announced plan for spurring the weakest economy since the Great Depression more than 70 years ago. Aides have indicated most of the package will probably go into infrastructure spending rather than tax breaks.

“If the president-elect really follows through, he’ll fund a lot of mass transit projects,” said Wilbur Ross, a Wall Street dealmaker who put together a steel conglomerate known as Arcelor Mittal USA.

“All the big cities have these projects ready to go.”

Since September, U.S. steel output has plunged about 50 percent to its lowest point since the 1980s, largely because construction and auto production have fallen sharply.

The fall-off in production of appliances, machinery and other electrical equipment has also reduced steel orders, sending the price of a ton of steel down by half since late summer.

Industry executives are “adding their voices to pleas for a huge public investment program of up to $1 trillion over two years,” the Times reported.

Imports, which account for about 30 percent of all steel sales in the United States, are also hurting as customers disappear, the paper said.

(Reporting by Jim Wolf; editing by Todd Eastham)

My American Legislative Priority New Year Resolution


My American Legislative Priority New Year Resolution

On the first morning of 2009, the Washington Journal on CSPAN started their daily program with a segment where callers could give their top legislative priorities for the upcoming year. This writer was lucky enough to get on air as the third caller.

I listed my top priorities as (1) the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, (2) an economic stimulus to help middle class and working class Americans and (3) creation of a system of government provided universal healthcare. The program gave me an opportunity to briefly state my reasons for giving passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Readers can hear those reasons by viewing the program segment from the Washington Journal archives at or read them from my Employee Free Choice Act and Republican Disinformation column of March 2007 at so I will not repeat them in this column. However, time restraints prevented a discussion even briefly of the other two listed priorities.

Additionally, there are many other important legislative priorities that need to be addressed in 2009. We need to (4) return to the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting, (5) renegotiate or repeal all the so-called “free trade” deals destroying American manufacturing, threatening our national governmental authority , undermining labor laws and crippling environmental regulation, (6) banning or nationalizing private armies and militaries, like Blackwater, (7) ending the counting of votes by private companies and making voting much easier while guaranteeing that every vote gets counted, (8) repealing the falsely named Patriot Act, (9) ending the federal ban on medical marijuana, (10) putting real teeth in federal anti-monopoly laws, (11) making corporate executives personally liable for the illegal actions of the corporations they run including both serious jail time and the seizure of personal assets when appropriate and (12) making the right to unionize a federally protected civil right. These dozen legislative priorities are certainly the ending place for the kind of change we need in this nation. They are really only the beginning of the serious institutional reforms we need to undertake in order to make America a better place to live for all our citizens.

It is becoming a regular theme in the Corporate Media that Obama and the Democratic Party should “govern from the center” and turn away from fundamental governmental change. This is pure nonsense and exactly the opposite of both what the voters were seeking in the 2008 elections and what the current, multiple crises demand.

We need to first understand that we have just ended an era of increasingly radical Right Wing governmental rule of, by and for Corporate interests. We had a government that ruled over us instead of representing us. We need a dramatic push in the opposite direction for decades just to return to the middle ground we occupied prior to the Reagan era. The goal should not be to return just to the pre-Reagan political mindset. The current situation demands a return to the New Deal mindset of the FDR era.

Adopting the dozen reforms listed above are a starting place for progressive change in America. Ever member of Congress and the Obama White House should get the message directly from every American citizen that we want fundamental reform. We are not looking for token reforms. We are not looking for Republican-lite approaches or compromises on fundamental reforms. We want real change.

My resolution for 2009 is to make it clear that no Right Wing Republican politician, Corporate Media outlet, lobbyist or opportunistic “Democrat in name only” operative will be able to stop the winds of change sweeping this nation. My resolution in 2009 is that I will work even harder during the next 8 years to enacted real reforms into law and government policy than I did to elect Democrats in 2008. I urge all readers to join in these efforts and to greatly expand the list of reforms far past the dozen I listed in this column.

Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic . Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Email: Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish or reprint in full without prior approval.

Started New Year with an effort to pass the Employee Free Choice Act


I called in to the Washington Journal on C-SPAN to start New Year

I called in about 5 minutes into the show to give my political priorities for the New Year.
They were (1) the Employee Free Choice Act, (2) economic stimulus and (3) government provided universal healthcare. I mentioned Democratic Talk Radio and was given an opportunity to discuss briefly the Employee Free Choice Act.

Here is the link



Monday, December 15, 2008
Posted by Jim Hightower
Listen to this Commentary
Some U.S. Senators are real corkers. Take Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee. Please.

He’s on the committee overseeing the bailout of America’s auto companies and he recently popped his cork over the pay that unionized auto workers earn. He demanded that their wages be slashed as a price of the industry getting a $14 billion bailout. “We need to put in place specific and rigorous measures,” he cried.

Odd that he was acting so tough toward those blue-collar folks, when he and his colleagues so meekly threw a $700-billion bailout at Wall Street bankers. Just one of those banks, Citigroup, was given $45 billion by the senators – with no questions asked. Indeed, Citigroup’s CEO is being paid $216 million this year, yet Corker made no demand that he take a whack in pay.

Those who are bashing workers want you to believe that union wages are exorbitant, topping $80,000 a year for a highly-skilled, experienced line worker. But, wait – total wages and benefits add up to less than 10 percent of a car’s price tag. Even if the union members worked for free, that wouldn’t save the corporations. Detroit’s problems aren’t on the factory floor, but up in the executive suites, where $10,000-an-hour CEOs have proven to be incompetent, unimaginative managers.

Yes, autoworkers make a good living – but isn’t that what we want for the families of our country? These workers define America’s middle-class ideal. They can afford to buy homes (and cars), send their kids to college, and even pay the taxes that cover Corker’s salary. By the way, the senator is paid double what auto workers get, and he doesn’t have to have any productive skills, do any heavy lifting, or deliver a product.

Someone should send a Henry Ford bobblehead to Corker to remind him of the auto pioneer’s wisdom: Good wages are the lifeblood of the industry – and of our economy.

“Democrats prepare to pitch auto rescue deal,” Austin American Statesman, December 7, 2008.

“Republicans Divided on Aid to Automakers,”, December 7, 2008.

“$73 an Hour: Adding It Up,”, December 10, 2008.