There’s a lot to be concerned about in the stimulus bill that Obama’s pushing, but perhaps the “Buy American” clause, which has set off some protectionist alarm bells, needn’t be one of them.
Here’s Obama talking to Charlie Gibson:
CHARLES GIBSON: A couple of quick questions. There are “Buy America” provisions in this bill. A lot of people think that could set up a trade war, cost American jobs. You want them out?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want provisions that are going to be a violation of World Trade organisation agreements or in other ways signal protectionism. I think that would be a mistake right now. That is a potential source of trade wars that we can’t afford at a time when trade is sinking all across the globe.
CHARLES GIBSON: What’s in there now? Do you think that does that? Do you want it out?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think we need to make sure that any provisions that are in there are not going to trigger a trade war.
As we’ve said, this question shows what’s wrong with the logic behind the entire stimulus. If the goal is to build things, then we should build things at the cheapest price with the best materials. But if the goal is merely to create work, then buying from abroad does have its drawbacks.
Meanwhile, despite all the crap, the stimulus basically remains popular, according to an analysis of polls done by Nate Silver.