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Op-Ed: Tell Congress newsprint tariffs threaten your paper … and you

Texas Press Association

Do you rely on your local newspaper to keep up with how your tax dollars are being spent? If so, tell your congressman you don’t want a tariff to put the paper out of business.

A new study shows communities that lose their newspapers suffer an alarming increase in the cost of local government because there’s no watchdog reporting on how your hard-earned money is spent.

A new “temporary” tariff on Canadian newsprint — the paper used to print 75 percent of American newspaper pages — poses a dire threat if it becomes permanent. Simply put, your hometown paper can’t exist if it costs more to print than it earns in revenue. The accompanying article by David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, details this dangerous situation.

Under the arcane and almost unfathomable rules of U.S. trade policy, the newspaper industry isn’t allowed to formally make its case to the administration, which will decide soon whether to make the tariff permanent. Members of Congress, on the other hand, may submit official comments to be considered.

The Texas newspaper industry has urged our 36 House members and both members of the Senate to help fight the tariff. So far, only a handful have agreed to so.

Signing on as co-sponsors of HR 6031, a bill that would put the brakes on the tariff, are Reps. Bill Flores, R, Bryan; Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, and Rep. Randy Weber, R-Friendswood. Providing letters of support for newspapers are Reps. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Mac Thornberry, R-Amarillo. Sen. John Cornyn has verbally stated that he opposes the tariff, and a spokesman for Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, said he plans a letter of support for newspapers.

That’s only seven members of a total Texas delegation of 38 who are fighting for Texas’ newspapers. Perhaps the others don’t think taxpayers care. It’s time for them to hear from you, the voter. Call. Write. Tell them you oppose the tariff because you depend on your local newspaper to serve as a watchdog.

Urge them take up this fight…not on newspapers’ behalf, but on yours.

And tell them you’ll be watching to see what they do.

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