Leading Pennyslvania politicians including Gov. Milton Shapp today called on the Carter administration to take sterner steps against dumping cheap foreign steel on the American market.
They also criticized President Carter's failure to take faster action in what they are describing as a major crisis in the domestic steel market.
"I wonder how quickly Mr. Carter would act if foreign peanuts were being dumped here," said Sen. Richard Schweiker (R-Pa.).
At a high level meeting of industry leaders and state politicians called by Shapp, the governor urged creation of a wide spectrum of federal programs to bail out the American steel industry.
"Effective programs must be developed or there is a grave danger this nation could slip into a depression period of major depth and length," Shapp said.
"In Pennsylvania, 10,000 steel workers have been laid off in the past three months alone," he added. "Twice that number of jobs has been lost in the steel industry in our state in the past three years, and five times that number in the last decade. The ripple effect is even more devastating on our economy."
Rather than having the government prop up the industry with direct cash loans or subsidies, he urged the creation of federal programs in public works that would use steel - such as mass transit, building construction and railroad rebuilding.
"There are many programs needed to stimulate the construction industry, but one simple one would be to allow builders a fast tax write off on new construction," Shapp said. "For example, if a builder could recapture his investment through depreciation in five or 10 years, this would give great impetus to the construction and steel industry."
And at the same time, he added Carter could take strong steps against dumping "by endorcement of our international trade agreement."
Schweiker, 1976 vice presidential contender on the Reagan ticket, issued a sharply worded statement in which he said he went to the White House two weeks ago to plead the case for the basic steel industry.
"And (Carter) said, 'there is no simplistic solution,'" Schweiker said. "Where are the President's priorities." It looks to me as if he's far more worried about the diplomatic niceties of our relations with foreign nations than he is about steel workers."
In a more mildly worded statement. Sen H. John Heinz III (R-Pa.) urged:
Creation of an "orderly marketing agreement" for voluntary restraints of imports.
Legislation of a "trade procedures reform act" to streamline U.S. trade laws. "The President has made a commitment to enforce the law more aggressively and we should hold him to it," Heinz said.
Maintainance of quotes on imported specially steels.
Enactment of bridge repair and railroad jobs legislation to create more than 180,000 direct and indirect jobs many in the steel industry.
Establishment of more stringent policies by the federal government to "buy American" "so that this country need never fear dependence on foreign steel in time of war or national emergency."
Provision of tax incentives on the purchase and installation of government-mandated pollution control equipment as part of "the Herculin task" of modernizing the American industry.
Heinz said he planned to announce today an investigation of the Buy American Act, particularly as it relates to defense purchasing, by the enate Government Affairs Federal Spending Practices subcommittee.