When Special Interests Collide

The President has made promotion of “green energy” a central part of his agenda. His efforts have thus far been littered with waste, fraud and abuse, but nevertheless it remains a key plank of the President’s platform.

So why then is his administration slapping tariffs on solar panel imports?

The United States on Thursday announced the imposition of antidumping tariffs of more than 31 percent on solar panels from China.

…The antidumping decision is among the biggest in American history, covering one of the largest and fastest-growing categories of imports from China, the world’s largest exporter.

…Many solar panel installers in the United States have opposed tariffs on Chinese panels, contending that inexpensive imports have helped spur many homeowners and businesses to put solar panels on their rooftops. The new tariffs are likely to mean a substantial increase in the price of solar panels here.

…Chinese officials have been indignant at American criticism of their solar power industry, pointing out that the United States has urged China for years to embrace renewable energy as a way to reduce air pollution, combat climate change and limit the need for oil imports from politically volatile countries in the Mideast.

Chinese confusion is understandable given the rhetoric of this administration.  But there’s more than one special interest in Obama’s coalition, and while environmentalists like the proliferation of solar panels no matter their source, unions and other domestic manufacturing fetishists would rather limit their availability and harm consumers by raising prices in an effort to insulate domestic producers from competition.

“Anti-dumping” rules in general, because they are designed by and cater to these very same special interests, are a counter productive and unnecessary burden on the economy, and often work at cross-purposes with other policy actions, as explained by this video from the Cato Institute:

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