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Biden’s Buy American Program Is Too Little, Too Late

The Capitalist

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Vintage Buy American metal sign - Raster version | Biden’s Buy American Program Is Too Little, Too Late | Featured

One of President Joe Biden’s earlier executive orders instructs the government to buy American more. Federal agencies should buy more American products to help American manufacturing.

Now, Biden’s about to find out his directive might be too little, too late to do anything.  

RELATED: Will Biden’s “Buy American” Promise Come True?

Many Presidents Already Went With “Buy American”

The first movement to make the government Buy American Act happened in 1933 during the Great Depression. Since then, many presidents, including former President Donald Trump already went the Buy American route.

Before he left the White House, Trump bolstered the Buy American policy by increasing domestic content requirements for “American-made” items.

Before the threshold stood at 50% for manufactured items and iron and steel. Trump made it 55 percent for manufactured goods and 95 percent for iron and steel.

Earlier January, Biden offered the latest version of directing taxpayer-funded projects to provide a boost to American manufacturing. This time, he wants a more domestic role in his “Build Back Better” program.

However, his Buy American initiative won’t help much in meeting the overall goal of creating 5 million new jobs by 2024. 

Buy American Can’t Add Jobs

There are two reasons. The first is that the majority of government purchases already deal with products made in the USA. The second deals with employment.

US factory jobs at the start of 2021 numbered 12.2 million. At its zenith, employment in the sector never exceeded 17 million since 2001. Therefore, pushing for 5 million jobs by 2024 is a bit too much to handle. 

Economists from the Peterson Institute for International Economics say that asking the government to buy local doesn’t really add jobs.

In fact, pursuing this policy can limit growth instead. This is because they funnel resources away from the private sector into government spending.

In particular, the Peterson Institute estimated that the annual cost to taxpayers for every Buy American job costs over $250,000 due to higher prices

Progressives Disagree

Progressives like Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin (D) disagree with the Peterson Institute. He said it makes sense that government agencies prefer American-made goods.

“I strongly believe when we are expending U.S. taxpayer dollars, we should not be sending those overseas to support foreign companies and foreign workers, companies that don’t pay any U.S. taxes,” Baldwin said. “We should be investing in the American workforce and American-made products,” she added. 

For example, the acute shortage of personal protective equipment during the initial outbreak last year showed how Buy American can work.

Instead of getting locals to supply the critical items during the initial weeks of the pandemic, the US had to import. “I saw one Wisconsin police department bidding against the same county’s sheriff’s department bidding against the rural hospital down the road, all trying to get a hold of necessary PPE and testing swabs and reagents,” Baldwin said. “I saw the chaos that exists when we don’t have strong policies or that we can manufacture what we need.”

Crackdown on Exemptions

In his executive order, Biden emphasized the need to crack down on exemptions that allow federal agencies to buy non-American goods.

He described them as “corporate loopholes” rather than a cost-saving measure. “If an agency wants to issue a waiver to say, ‘We’re not going to buy an American product as part of this project; we’re going to buy a foreign product,’ they have to come to the White House and explain it to us,” Biden said.

To address that gaping hole, Biden appointed Celeste Drake, a trade policy specialist who worked for the AFL-CIO labor federation. Drake will sport a new title:

Made in America director, which is part of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Drake will closely scrutinize whether applications for waivers and recommend their approval or rejection. 

Government Already Buys American

How much more should the government buy? According to the US Chamber of Commerce, local goods already account for 97% of the $2.35 trillion spendings by the government between 2015 to 2020.

In addition, foreign firms won less than 1% of around 85 million contracts signed by the government during the same period. In particular, almost all of that was Defense department contracts that US affiliates of British or European companies managed to win.

Watch Fox News’ Martha MacCallum weighing in on what Biden’s promises are really doing to America:

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Is Buy American important to you? What do you think of Biden’s Buy American policies? Are they just a paper tiger, or will they help boost American businesses? Let us know what you think by sharing your comments below.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  • Avatar Glynda Jones says:

    Too bad he didn’t think about our 5ax dollars before sending billions overseas with this last B.S. COVID19 relief thing.

  • Avatar David Willoams says:

    Just smoking mirrors! Joe and his COMMUNIST democreeps rather the citizens by communist goods from China, Russia,a d elsewhere. Joe and and his COMMUNIST cronies AREN’T ABOUT AMERICA!

  • Avatar John Hittle says:

    While I like the idea of buy American and support American jobs it is difficult to pay twice as much for the same thing just to have it made here in America. Forcing a higher cost to manufacturers and the American public goes against Economic principles which is buy at the lowest cost. And once again you are forcing the higher costs to be paid by low and middle income Americans. A better solution would be to charge a nominal Purchase Tax on foreign goods. Foreign goods would still cost less but the money collected from the tax could be spent on programs here in America.

  • Avatar Jos says:

    Eliminating some of the pointless regulations that increase US manufacturing costs would be a start. Allowing mining and resource extraction here at home (clean) rather than outsourcing to China, Congo, Russia (much dirtier) helps US jobs AND the planet. Biden’ Administration keeps partisan ideological blinkers from seeing the bigger picture and what is good for America.

  • Avatar David says:

    That’s funny. Joe’s huying from China but he’s going to make an EO to buy American? Governemnt is so stupid whatever they do buy rhey overpay just because it’s all a sham. My cousin worjd for the government, they buy hammers at $200, they run about $30 at home depot.

  • Avatar Linda Miller says:

    Once again, the democrats want to turn their bad thinking into a very poor judgement they can blame on someone else. What is it that the democrats do while in office? I think the air in D.C. is extremely polluted. If you can’t put up a credible candidate, what can you do? Nothing?

  • Avatar Sherry says:

    I think there should be a Law. for every one to buy American products. And Why is so much cheaper to buy None American products

  • Avatar Delores Reedy says:

    I think that both the government and public should by American made products

  • Avatar JOEL K GOODMAN says:

    buy american made rope and hang Biden with it.

  • Avatar Eugene Bowers says:

    I would gladly buy American if the products were superior and the cost was cheaper. Unfortunately that is usually not the case. Executive compensation in a lot of American companies add quite a bit to the cost of American made products. If those costs were brought down maybe the prices of American made goods would be more competitive price wise to foreign goods.

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