Rumblings in the opinion pages about the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge project
We’ve been keeping an eye on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge reconstruction project. But if you're just coming to this issue, here it is in a nutshell: New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) plans to outsource the steel work on the bridge’s central span to a producer in China, despite American firms bidding on the project at a competitive cost.
There's no new word yet on whether the MTA plans to revisit its plans to send $34 million worth of work to a state-subsidized company on a different continent. But the issue isn’t going away. Peter Navarro, in an opinion in today’s New York Times, writes that there are more reasons than just the price tag to consider when awarding bids on taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects, including safety issues, environmental concerns, and ultimately, jobs:
The abiding fact is that steel production is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government. These subsidies range from the massive benefits of a manipulated and undervalued currency to the underwriting of the costs of energy, land, loans and water.
Because of China’s subsidies — most of which are arguably illegal under international trade agreements — its producers are able to dump steel products into America at or below the actual cost of production. This problem is particularly acute now as China is saddled with massive overcapacity in its steel industry.
Of course, every job China gains by dumping steel into American markets is an American job lost. Each steelworker’s job in America generates additional jobs in the economy, along with increased tax revenues. With over 20 million Americans now unable to find decent work, we could certainly use those jobs as we repair the Verrazano Bridge.
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