NEW YORK Leaders in the
steel industry are hoping to hear indications in President
Obamas State of the Union address Feb. 12 that the
executive branch will take measurable steps to improve
manufacturing conditions during Obamas second term,
Thomas Gibson, president of the American Iron and Steel
Institute (AISI), told AMM.
"Im hoping the President
speaks to manufacturing, and Im hoping that its not
just about jobs," Gibson said. "I hope he talks about things
that were going to do to create those jobs."
A laundry list of legislation
that would make steel manufacturing in the United States more
profitable and therefore more competitive would include
stricter trade laws, lower corporate taxes, a long-term
transportation bill to improve roads and river transport, and
laws that make energy cheaper and more accessible, Gibson
Gibson said he would be
listening warily for indications the president is using his
post-election political capital to introduce tighter
environmental regulations and higher corporate taxes, both of
which Gibson contends would make it harder for U.S. steel
companies to do business.
"My fear lately is that
theyre looking at the corporate tax as a place where they
can raise additional revenue," said Gibson. "(Corporate tax)
has to make manufacturing more competitive, not less
competitive. Were hoping to hear more positive signs
there than just bashing of the industry."
Greenhouse gas regulation and
other environmental laws, especially without getting developing
economies around the world involved, could dampen developments
in natural gas that have benefited the industry, Gibson said.
"Were going to be looking very carefully at imposing
unilateral burdens without some framework that involves the
developing economies. (Regulations like that) just put us at a
disadvantage," Gibson said.
Though the president is unlikely
to mention all these specific measures in his address, Gibson
said he hopes the steel industry will still be able to glean a
sense of the White Houses priorities this year by
"Is he going to draw lines
(during the address)?" said Gibson. "If its (a certain)
level of generality, maybe it doesnt matter much. ...
More, Im going to be looking at the individual elements
on what hes going to be doing."