Caterpillar worms its way into "Buy America" debate
Corporations are attacking the "Buy America" provisions of the new stimulus package as "protectionism," as if investing U.S. taxpayer money in the domestic market is an abomination of the first order. Todd wrote about this yesterday; it's worth noting now that companies like Caterpillar, who are arguing strenuously against these provisions, have moved much production overseas.
What's more, the arguments being made are specious: the Buy America piece of the stimulus package simply extends existing law, rather than being some kind of brand-new nefarious protectionist scheme. The original Buy America Act was part of the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act, and requires that U.S. steel and iron be used for federal and state transportation infrastructure projects. Notably, this is exempt from coverage under various trade-agreement procurement rules - although this certainly does not mean that said procurement rules are not still seriously problematic (PDF).
We have just released a lengthy memo for reporters and other interested parties on this issue. Many gory details contained therein, including the legal difference between "Buy America" and "Buy American" (yes, they are two different policies).
(Photo: Bill Lane of Caterpillar, back in his CAFTA Fat Cat days.)