That Steel Bailout? The Bucket Leaks

A cumbersome plan, and strict conditions for qualifying, make it small help to most mills

Last August, President Clinton came through for the beleaguered steel industry, signing into law a federal program guaranteeing $1 billion in bank loans for steel producers hit by low-priced imports. By co-signing for the loans, the government was making a "smart, effective investment in the steel industry," said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, who, with fellow West Virginia Democrat Senator Robert C. Byrd, led the push for federal assistance. The program, Rockefeller said, would "provide badly needed help for our struggling steel companies."

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