Syracuse.com: Members of Congress: Tariff on Canadian paper threatens U.S. newspaper industry

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Washington, July 17, 2018 | comments
One by one, almost 20 members of Congress stood before the International Trade Commission on Tuesday and described in stark terms the threat to the U.S. newspaper industry.
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One by one, almost 20 members of Congress stood before the International Trade Commission on Tuesday and described in stark terms the threat to the U.S. newspaper industry.

Republicans, Democrats and an independent representing every region of the United States displayed rare agreement: A U.S. tariff on Canadian paper imposed by President Donald Trump's administration represents an attack on the First Amendment.

The Senators and House members testified that a preliminary tariff on uncoated groundwood paper used for newsprint has raised prices up to 30 percent, and could bring about the demise of small community newspapers and cutbacks at larger daily papers.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., noted the rare moment in which members of Congress were defending the same newspapers that ask tough questions and hold them accountable.

"I never thought I was going to say some of the things I'm going to say," Isakson said, as he began to address the commission. "The threat of losing the newspaper in this country is a tremendous threat to the First Amendment."

Isakson explained why he thought newspapers are important, noting that he once ran a real estate brokerage that was the second-leading advertiser in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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But Rep. David McKinley, a Republican from West Virginia, warned commission members that the tariffs are unlikely to revive an industry that has seen a 75 percent drop in demand for newsprint since 2000 amid declining newspaper circulation.

"This tariff isn't going to result in new mills opening," McKinley said. "It's like saying, 'When are we going to open the next Blockbuster Video store?' It just isn't going to happen."

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