I'll take this as a win, although once again Obama simply splits the difference on something that requires bold action. And this isn't just a matter of propping up an "ailing" American tire industry - Chinese tires are quite heavily subsidized, and China has been flooding the market with below-cost tires in an attempt to drive American tire companies out of business.
Still, positive news for American workers!
In one of his first major decisions on trade policy, President Obama opted Friday to impose a tariff on tires from China, a move that fulfills his campaign promise to "crack down" on imports that unfairly undermine American workers but risks angering the nation's second-largest trading partner.
The decision is intended to bolster the ailing U.S. tire industry, in which more than 5,000 jobs have been lost over the past five years as the volume of Chinese tires in the market has tripled.
It comes at a sensitive time, however. Leaders from the world's largest economies are preparing to gather in Pittsburgh in less than two weeks to discuss more cooperation amid tensions over trade.
The tire tariff will amount to 35 percent the first year, 30 percent the second and 25 percent the third.
Although a federal trade panel had recommended higher levies -- of 55, 45 and 35 percent, respectively -- the decision is considered a victory for the United Steelworkers union, which filed the trade complaint.
"The president sent the message that we expect others to live by the rules, just as we do," Leo W. Gerard, president of the union, said Friday night.
China's government and its tire manufacturers, as well as tire importers and some U.S. tire makers with plants overseas, had strenuously objected to the measure.
"The President decided to remedy the clear disruption to the U.S. tire industry based on the facts and the law in this case," the White House said in a statement released Friday night.