First, the Buy America provisions survived the conference committee and remain in the stimulus package. These provisions, which were vehemently opposed by multinational corporate lobbyists, encourage government agencies to purchase American-made goods in spending the stimulus money, so as to make sure the money creates as big an economic multiplier effect for our economy as possible.Of course, you won't hear the Mackinac Center, Republicans, or conservative mouthpieces like Lesley Stahl singing the praises of Buy American. They argue we're being protectionists and other countries will look upon these provisions as hostile. That's garbage according to this CEO who told 60 Minutes...
Second, I'm told by Capitol Hill sources that the Sanders-Grassley amendment prohibiting bailed-out banks from using taxpayer money to outsource jobs remains in the final bill. The amendment followed the Associated Press's report that many banks were using the cash in conjunction with their ongoing efforts to abuse the H-1B program and outsource information sector jobs.
"The whole purpose of your stimulus package, and it's the right purpose, is to stop the bleeding of jobs and to create new jobs here in America, not overseas, not in China, not in Europe," Dan DiMicco, the CEO of Nucor ...The EPI agrees: "These companies are self-interested, simply wanting unlimited access to imports, many of which are illegally subsidized and unfairly traded."
DiMicco said that the counter argument - trade retaliation by other countries - is not true. "It's all garbage," he told Stahl. "People can say what they want. What we have around the world, all right, is a trade war against the United States that we have not showed up for."
DiMicco denied he is a protectionist. "I am a person who says there's no such thing as free trade. Free trade is an academic luxury the real world doesn't enjoy. If you want to study it at Harvard, study it at Harvard. It doesn't work in the real world. It has no application."
Our economy is badly crippled and people are hurting. Taxpayer money should be used to help Americans and put our own house in order first, and that means the government has to make sure the money isn't used to widen the trade deficit, not if it wants to create and preserve jobs.
Suppose the government spends, say, $100 billion on bridges and buildings, and that $500 million of that is used to buy steel. If it is used to buy imported steel, and if that $500 million doesn't come back to the United States in the form of demand for its exports, then you can subtract $500 million from the stimulus. And you can be pretty sure--given our current trade deficit--that something like that would happen. So, without a requirement that these government projects use domestic steel (with mills currently running at 43 percent capacity!), there is a very great possibility that the government would be throwing away money rather than doing anything about the problem. [emphasis added]Republicans are hoping Obama fails. What better way to make sure that happens than to push to use the stimulus money to buy materials from foreign countries?
How do most Americans feel about the "Buy American" provisions? A national poll found that 84 percent favor the requirements and only 4 percent strongly oppose them. The overwhelming support was consistent regardless of gender, age, income level, education, or region, proving once again that Republicans are out of touch with mainstream America.
Republicans are out of touch with local Michigan communities too. A group in Genesee County says it's important to think about the American economy, and they're going even further with a campaign to buy local. A series of business leaders in Grand Blanc, Swartz Creek, Flint and other communities recorded a series of messages that play regularly on four radio stations that are part of the local Cumulus Radio Group.
Jet Kilmer, President of the Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce, recorded one message that explains how 83% of money spent with a local merchant stays in the community vs. 43% spent outside. The message urges people to consider buying local, or to hire local contractors to do needed work.
And according to Crain's Detroit, "the state Agriculture Department projected that if Michigan households earmarked $10 a week in their grocery purchases to made-in-Michigan food products, it would generate $30 million a week in economic impact."
What's good for big business isn't always good for Americans. If we don't have jobs and decent wages, we won't be able to buy what they're selling no matter how much they mark it down. That's why we need to keep the stimulus money in this country. Americans should come first. Period.