Chamber of Commerce Sides with Foreign Embassies Against Buy American

There they go again. Those running the show at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are attacking again the Buy American provision in the economic stimulus package.

Ignoring, once more, that Buy American makes fundamental economic sense by ensuring at least some of our taxpayer bailout money is invested in American-made productions, the Chamber is siding with foreign embassies battling the Buy American provisions. In a June 2 letter to lawmakers, Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, asked Congress to exclude Buy American provisions from all legislation.

More recently, the Chamber held a joint press conference June 11 with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters to decry the Buy American provisions in the stimulus. For a trade association with “U.S.” in its name, siding with foreign corporations against those in the United States is, well, you fill in the word that best describes it.

Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC), framed the Chamber’s action this way, according to the Daily Labor Report (subscription required):

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is effectively suggesting that America needs to buy more Canadian to dig out of our economic hole. That position doesn’t pass the U.S. economic interest laugh test.

The Chamber’s anti-Buy American stance, which undermines the interests of America’s workers, also isn’t amusing for the millions of jobless workers in this nation.

In fact, the Chamber’s false argument that Buy America provisions will start a “trade war” is a tired one. The stimulus requires that U.S. material be used in projects funded by the bill, but also states that the clause should not override U.S. international trade commitments.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative spokeswoman Deborah Mesloh said the Obama administration is committed to ensuring that the Buy America requirements in the stimulus legislation are applied in a manner that is consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements.

Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), said the rules are necessary to boost the sagging domestic economy and should be included in other spending bills.

It is common sense that a small portion of your tax dollars in a stimulus package dedicated to stimulating the American economy be spent in America.

At the AAM blog, Steve Capozzola knocks down the Chamber’s feeble arguments against the Buy American provisions.

  1. Buy America provisions in the recent stimulus bill are both consistent with longstanding U.S. policy and adhere to America’s international trade obligations.
  2. Most other countries utilize the same domestic procurement efforts.
  3. Furthermore, the U.S. has been a leading proponent of the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which opens the U.S. market to foreign bids. Some of the very countries criticizing Buy America policy have made no such reciprocal efforts to open their markets.

Tantillo, whose AMTAC is founded by U.S. manufacturers, succinctly sums up the need for Buy American provisions:

The only way for the U.S. economy to climb out of recession is for people to start buying more American-made goods and services, including the U.S. government.

This is a crosspost from AFL-CIO Now blog.

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