2.04.2009

Which Side of the Fence

If there's an issue I'm holding my breath on, it's trade. Barack the Magic Campaigner could be all things to all people; Barack the 44th President of the United States has to make some tough choices. The "Buy American" crowd wants to preserve jobs for citizens; the multinational business crowd understands that such provisions will almost certainly ice US businesses out of opportunities to compete for work generated by other governments' stimulus efforts.

This article suggests President Obama has sent mixed signals so far: "US-EU Trade War Looms as Barack Obama Bill Urges 'Buy American.'"

Perched on one shoulder are free trade advocates like Bill Lane of Caterpillar: "We are the first to recognise that if the US embraces Buy American then the whole notion of buying national will mestastasize and limit our ability to take part in overseas projects. We are students of history. A major reason a very deep recession turned into the Great Depression was the fact that countries turned inward."

Perched on the other shoulder are those who represent distressed Rust Belt states like Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio: "As we are losing jobs in record numbers, we obviously need to devote these funds to direct creation of American jobs. To do that, we must ensure that federal funds are used to buy American products and to help promote manufacturing in our country. Ultimately I want taxpayers to know where their dollars are being spent. Are they being spent on American products or products coming from Germany or Mexico?"

So which side of the fence is President Obama going to fall on? I'm breathlessly waiting.
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