Thursday, December 17, 2009

Revenge of Buy American

I've documented the economic and foreign policy harms caused by the utterly ridiculous Buy American provision that was included in last February's Stimulus* bill. Well, for your ever-expanding "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME" file comes news from Bloomberg that the House has just passed a $154 billion StimulusEconomic Aid Package that actually strengthens Buy American:
“Buy American” rules requiring the use of U.S. goods in construction projects would be strengthened under legislation the U.S. House of Representatives approved today.

Provisions in the $154 billion economic-aid measure would make it more difficult for government agencies to waive the requirement that most steel and manufactured goods used for highway and bridge projects be produced in the U.S.

The waiver process has been “out of control,” Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which represents U.S. Steel Corp. and the United Steelworkers union. “Waivers have eroded the impact and intent of our domestic content laws.”

The legislation extends Buy American provisions approved in February in the $787 billion economic stimulus package to purchases made with funds from today’s measure. The rules mandated that all the steel and manufactured goods purchased with the funds be made in America, or in countries with U.S. agreements on government procurement....

The 119-page measure contains proposals from lawmakers including Democratic Representative Daniel Lipinski of Illinois requiring federal agencies to publish requests for waivers on their Web sites. Waivers that are granted must contain a detailed rationale with an analysis of the impact of the waiver on U.S. factory jobs, the legislation says.

The rule “has often been undermined by an opaque waiver process that is used to purchase foreign goods,” Lipinski wrote in a letter to lawmakers today.
As I've noted repeatedly, Buy American has confounded states and municipalities, crippled businesses both abroad and here at home, destroyed perfectly good raw materials, incensed US trading partners, and led to serious retaliation against US exports. And yesterday, the braintrust that is the United States House of Representatives just bolstered this debacle, rather than giving it the overdue death that it very, very much deserves.

One can only hope that the Senate will come to the rescue and, at the very least, remove the offensive new provisions. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

(Repeating the obvious: and these are the same folks who want to control our healthcare, energy sector, banking system, auto sector and god knows what else?)

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