Moolenaar Opposes Tariffs Hurting Michigan Publishers

July 17, 2018
Press Release

Today, Congressman John Moolenaar testified to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) about the damaging effects of federal tariffs on newsprint that is imported from Canada. The ITC is an independent federal agency that looks into foreign imports and their impact on domestic industries in the United States. The tariffs were levied earlier this year by the Commerce Department, affecting hundreds of Michigan companies and more than 24,000 residents.

Congressman Moolenaar has heard from publishers in his district about the negative effects tariffs will have on their businesses, including higher costs, fewer jobs, and fewer pages in their local newspapers. Today, he made sure these concerns were heard in Washington and urged the ITC to end the tariffs on newsprint.

Congressman Moolenaar's testimony to the ITC is below.

Testimony to the U.S. International Trade Commission
by Congressman John Moolenaar
July 17, 2018
Washington D.C.
As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning Mr. Chairman, commissioners,

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to speak about the impact of federal tariffs on uncoated groundwood paper, commonly known as newsprint, that is imported from Canada.

My district covers 15 counties in mid and northern Michigan and for many residents the daily or weekly paper is a source of important news and information.

The papers employ journalists, editors and staff who work hard to present information relevant to their communities.

In many cases, like Greenville, Owosso, Houghton Lake, and Gratiot County, these newspapers and their publishers are part of the American Dream, passed down from generation-to-generation.

In these communities, there are no big city papers to bring residents their community news. There is no alternative for coverage of high school sports, the township council meeting, or the special tributes for graduations and anniversaries.

These tariffs, if they continue, will do lasting damage to these important community institutions.

In Greenville, they estimate that the annual costs of the tariffs will be more than $250,000, simply too much for a community publisher to absorb. 

In my hometown of Midland, the editor is worried about what the tariffs will mean for seniors in the community. He wrote to my office:

“Most print product readers tend to be loyal, aging customers who have nowhere else to turn for their connection to the community. We know this because our readers tell us this — especially on days when their home delivery is inadvertently missed.”

In Owosso, the Argus Press also prints the newspapers of 70 high schools. 

If these tariffs go into effect, the costs will be too great for some high school papers to continue. Students will lose chances to learn about writing, journalism, and the First Amendment.

We should be creating more opportunities for these important civic lessons and all we have to do is end this unnecessary and burdensome government regulation.

These tariffs are affecting all Americans. They are hurting business owners, journalists, the young, and the old.

The publishers I have heard from say they are already reducing the number of pages they print in each edition. 

That means less space for the local news that highlights the people and events in their communities.

After that, the publishers say they will have to reduce staff – maybe 5 or 10 percent – depending on the number of workers they have.

Jobs will be lost because of these tariffs while only one company in the entire country will gain.

These tariffs will do tremendous damage to community newspapers in the small towns in the heartland of our country. They will create job losses, reduce the amount of news covered in our communities, and hurt local hardworking businesses that have been passed down for generations as part of the American Dream.

Finally, I want to close by mentioning that earlier this month, the Commerce Department lost its case when trying to defend its duties on imports of glossy paper. It was a long, two-year legal fight that began during the Obama Administration and we should not repeat the failed mistakes of the past.

Whether it is a glossy magazine or the local paper, there is special importance to seeing something in print. 

I urge you to end the unfair and harsh burden of the tariffs on newsprint so local publishers and hardworking journalists can continue to do business and cover our communities.

Thank you.