The Baltimore Sun

'Buy American' boosts economy

The Baltimore Sun's editorial "Trade to recover" (March 13) was littered with misconceptions about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and especially the "Buy American" clause it contains.

The $787 billion economic stimulus package that was signed into law a few weeks ago by President Barack Obama is a project made possible by our tax dollars. The money spent under this bill is intended to put an end to the economic crisis facing the American people.

Around $111 billion (or 14.1 percent of the $787 billion stimulus package) has been allocated for bridge, road and other public infrastructure improvements.

For this spending, the House, Senate and president included a "Buy American" clause in the law that stipulates that American-made products such as steel, iron and other manufactured goods be used in the bridge and road redevelopments that are part of the stimulus package.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. trade in goods and services amounted to approximately $4 trillion in 2007. The $111 billion in infrastructure spending to which the "Buy American" clause will apply amounts to a mere 2.8 percent of that the $4 trillion in global trading.

This money is a drop in the bucket. And to say that such a clause will ignite a global trade war is lunacy.

"Buy American" means putting Americans back to work rather than letting our tax dollars be squandered overseas.

The "Buy American" clause is not a mandate on ordinary American consumers, as the editorial seems to suggest.

Rather, it is a commitment that says that we would rather have our government spending our tax dollars on American-made goods to help stimulate the U.S. economy instead of those of China, India and other nations.

James Strong, Baltimore

The writer is a sub-district director for the United Steelworkers International Union.

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