“Buy American” is just common sense. Taxpayers are taking on debt to get this economy going. They would be incredulous to find that the government is borrowing money to pay for jobs created abroad. There is no surer way to ignite a protectionist fury in this economy than to cut “Buy American” provisions from the recovery package. Congress is poised to borrow hundreds of billions in American taxpayer dollars to put Americans to work. If they spend this on steel made in Germany or windmills made in China, the editorial pages may applaud the nobility of the action, but the public outrage will be formidable and justified.
Moreover, “Buy American” is good global policy. This global crisis will require every major country joining the U.S. in a major domestic stimulus plan. If they think they can simply let us run up the debt and ride on our spending, then we won’t get the list needed to counter the global downturn. Part of the reason we got into this mess was the unsustainable trade imbalances. The recovery plan should be the first step in adjusting those imbalances, not adding to them.
Legislators must get beyond the Beltway and start talking to small business owners and workers in their districts. “Buy American” isn’t alien to them; it’s just common sense.