Big Biz Slams 'Buy American' Stimulus Clause

Exporters warn of foreign backlash if package erects free-trade barriers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2009 8:00 AM CST
Steel industry spokesmen say that Buy American clauses are the only way to get American steelworkers back to work instead of their Chinese counterparts.   (©Unhindered by Talent)
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(Newser) – American exporters are fighting to ditch "Buy American" provisions from the economic stimulus package, the Washington Post reports. The House version bars most foreign iron and steel from stimulus projects, while a Senate version calls for only American-made equipment and goods to be used in nearly all projects to be funded by the stimulus package—a move exporters say would spark swift retaliation from foreign governments.

Industrial giants like General Electric and Caterpillar—who stand to benefit from the stimulus package—say the clauses amount to a war on free trade and warn that tit-for-tat protectionist measures brought world trade to a halt during the Great Depression. Proponents of the Buy American provisions, including steel industry spokesmen, argue that they are the only way to make sure a package designed to save US jobs does just that.