"The repeal of the protectionist Byrd Amendment in Congress's year-end reconciliation bill is more than a rare legislative victory. It's closer to a Christmas miracle.Of course, it is good news to hear that Congress rejected this amendment this time around. But, is this not the epitome of rent seeking? In 2001 Congress passed a law that directed "antidumping and countervailing duties into the pockets of U.S. companies that petition for the tariff protection." It seems Congress had "loaned" it's power to tax to various private companies. Do you suppose this could possibly be consistent with the Constitution?
Named after the West Virginia Senator who snuck it into law without debate in a 2001 appropriations bill, Byrd directs antidumping and countervailing duties into the pockets of U.S. companies that petition for the tariff protection. Byrd was nothing more than a wealth transfer from U.S. consumers and industries that use imports to a small network of savvy protectionists. The miracle is that repeal happened even with all that concentrated 'interest' flowing to politicians who supported Byrd.
Ohio-based ball bearing manufacturer Timken raked in the most Byrd money this year, more than $62 million, while Timken subsidiary MPB Corporation was second with almost $19 million. Ball bearing maker Emerson Power Transmission Corp. finished third with better than $16 million, ahead of candle maker Lancaster Colony Corp. with winnings of $11 million. Total 2005 Byrd distributions were $226 million, 80% of which went to just over 30 companies."
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Today's WSJ editorial page includes a discussion of the recent Congressional defeat of the "Byrd Amendment:"