Kentucky Steelworkers Lose Faith In Trump As Steel Mill Closes
The U.S. steel industry saw a noticeable boost after President Donald Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports, but it is becoming apparent that the stimulation was short-lived. Now, steelworkers are losing faith that the president can make good on his promise to revitalize the industry.
In Ashland, Kentucky, another steel mill is closing — one that sustained the community for decades — and those who work there are unsure what will happen to them next.
Brenda Deborde told The Washington Post that both she and her husband traveled to welcome Trump in nearby Huntingdon, West Virginia, when he visited the town for a rally.
“We really thought the tariffs were going to turn us around — that things would go back to being the way it was. We thought it could be a kind of saving grace,” the 58-year-old steelworker said.
Instead, she and her husband, Matt, will lose their jobs by the end of the year after more than 20 years at the mill.
Trump’s tariffs initially caused steel prices to soar, The Post noted, but they have fallen even lower than where prices were prior to the presidents trade war. Prices are down more than 40 percent from last summer, the newspaper reported.
Likewise, steel company stocks have plummeted, some falling more than 50 percent.
The Trump administration has pointed to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, which it views as highly flawed, as reason for the country’s current economic slowdown — which has hit U.S. steel companies fairly hard.
“Without those tariffs . . . the steel industry would be in fragile straits,” said Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s top White House trade advisers. “The biggest factor driving the slowdown in the U.S. economy, from what should be 3 percent growth to around 2 percent, is a highly misguided Federal Reserve policy that raised interest rates too far and too fast.”
According to analysts, “the weaknesses in the global economy, exacerbated by a recession in domestic manufacturing, risk wiping out the U.S. steel industry’s gains from Trump’s tariffs.”
Meanwhile, steelworkers in Ashland are now seeing the limitations of Trump’s tariffs, particularly as it relates to individual workers. Many who spoke with The Post were supportive of Trump’s tariffs, and some said they believed the president should have made them stronger.
“The tariffs — we thought they’d bring some life back,” one steelworker told the newspaper. “But they just raised the price of steel.”