January 29, 2009

Some in U.S. balk at ‘Buy American’

A Buy American provision in the House-passed $819 billion economic stimulus measure has found opposition among some stalwart U.S. industries.

The House version of the bill mandates projects funded by the package use only domestic iron and steel, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The Senate version pushes the issue further, requiring American-made equipment and goods be used for the federally funded projects.

But, some corporations that stand to benefit from the federal spending bill are wary of the protectionist message and the possibility the purchasing stipulation violates trade agreements.

Some of the companies, like General Electric and and Caterpillar Corp., expect to participate in projects funded by similar spending bills abroad and fear other countries will pass retaliatory provisions in their bills.

By embracing Buy American you are undermining our ability to export U.S. produced products overseas, said Bill Lane, Caterpillar's government affairs director in Washington.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, we are reviewing the Buy American plan proposal. However, she said, the Obama administration was committed to a plan that will save or create at least 3 million jobs including jobs in manufacturing.