From the WSJ:
U.S. steelmakers are preparing a raft of complaints against foreign steel imports, a move that could result in stiff tariff increases later this year and escalate trade tensions with China, say people familiar with the matter.
Companies such as U.S. Steel Corp., Nucor Corp. and AK Steel Holding Corp. hope extra tariffs will hold off foreign competitors from gaining market share in parts of the roughly $100 billion U.S. steel market not protected by “Buy American” provisions in the $787 billion stimulus bill.
These companies lobbied hard for the Buy American provisions and now that they’ve been rewarded, they are coming back for more. President Bush fell for this ruse in his first term and imposed tariffs. The result was higher steel prices for US companies that use steel. The government cannot “protect” one industry without hurting another. The companies that will be hurt by higher steel prices (or taxpayers in the case of the stimulus spending) are widely dispersed and are not organized to lobby against the tariffs.
If we impose tariffs on steel, the countries it hurts will not retaliate by imposing steel tariffs on US companies. They will choose another product and the damage will spread. The end result will be less economic activity and likely less business for the steel companies that wanted the tariffs in the first place. It is ultimately self defeating.