Obama abandons “Buy American” in Porkulus

posted at 11:50 am on February 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama made a wise call, one of his few thus far in the stimulus debate, by pressing Congress to get rid of the “buy American” clause in Porkulus.  Obama, who ran on a promise to impose such restrictions, saw belatedly that he could wind up being the Herbert Hoover of the 21st century, and listened to the advice of Caterpillar’s CEO instead:

President Barack Obama’s visit to a Caterpillar manufacturing plant Thursday did more than focus attention on his efforts to create working-class jobs, as administration officials hoped. It provided the perfect backdrop to highlight Obama’s change of heart on controversial “Buy American” provisions that require government-funded projects to use only U.S.-made materials.

The issue has forced Obama to dance between rival camps of supporters in the debate over his economic stimulus bill. Labor unions wanted a strong Buy American provision in the plan; U.S. trade partners and companies with significant overseas exports, such as Caterpillar, oppose the proviso.

It’s unclear exactly where the president, who during the campaign ran “Buy American, Vote Obama” ads in labor-heavy states, currently stands on the issue. But citing the economic crisis, he now says he supports a watered-down version of the Buy American provisions contained in the House and Senate stimulus bills.

I wonder how those Rust Belt voters who fell in love with Obama’s populism feel about this particular expiration date.  The cheesy logo, which I suspected was a rip-off of either Flying A Gasolne or REO Speedwagon, helped convince voters in labor-heavy states to feel the Hope and Change.  Is this Change They Can Believe In?

Well, it’s change in which I can believe, and an expiration date I’m glad to see.  There’s nothing wrong with the President cheerleading for American goods, nor in offering advice to consumers to try American goods before imports.  That’s far different than erecting trade restrictions in government contracts.  American companies such as Caterpillar compete for similar infrastructure projects in other countries and would lose massive amounts of revenue if they got blocked from those contracts.  Caterpillar makes 60% of its revenue on foreign sales, and a trade war would force them to lay off a lot more than the 20,000 already out of work in this downturn.

The restrictions on trade have been removed from the final version of Porkulus.  Even if this bill goes down to defeat, which it should, any stimulus package that follows it should likewise only require that contractors meet the conditions of existing trade agreements.  The last thing America and the world needs is another global trade war in the middle of a sharp recession.


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Congrats Barry, it took you years to understand what most normal adults take days to grasp.

At this rate, you’ll make a fine President by 2067.

NoDonkey on February 13, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Ed, you’re smart.

I wanna be like you when I grow up. ;-)

Abby Adams on February 13, 2009 at 11:55 AM

The G-7 is meeting in Rome. I read that they are pissed at the buy American stuff, and have made it known.

I assume Pelosi is going to Rome for this, but why? Who represents us now in the G-7?

JiangxiDad on February 13, 2009 at 11:55 AM

The restrictions on trade have been removed from the final version of Porkulus.

Are we sure? Anyone check?

Not saying I don’t trust Barry, or his pet Congress… but I don’t trust Barry, or his pet Congress.

Romeo13 on February 13, 2009 at 11:57 AM

Finally, Obama’s plan to save the US has passed the international test.

Kerry will be pleased.

BobMbx on February 13, 2009 at 11:58 AM

American companies such as Caterpillar compete for similar infrastructure projects in other countries and would love I think you mean lose, massive amounts of revenue if they got blocked from those contracts.

That being said:

Ed, you’re smart.

I wanna be like you when I grow up. ;-)

Abby Adams on February 13, 2009 at 11:55 AM

what she said :)

FLKraKa on February 13, 2009 at 11:58 AM

A broken clock is right twice a day.

rockmom on February 13, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Well, of course The Harpy Harridan Herself is junketing in Rome. As Co-President (Tax and Spending), she represents our Country’s Best Mind on Economic Stimulus.

Besides, the new Spring/Summer fashions are out so it’s a good time to shop.

SeniorD on February 13, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Ogabe realized that “Buy American” would be impossible when 95% of American companies will die after this stimucrap plan is passed.

The geek is just being pragmatic.

Bishop on February 13, 2009 at 12:02 PM

I thought the sign resembled that of the NRA (Nat Relief Act) G Reynolds talked about the NRA recently on Fox.

Jed1899 on February 13, 2009 at 12:04 PM

Fixed it — thanks!

Ed Morrissey on February 13, 2009 at 12:04 PM

I agree there should be no trade provision requiring this.
We do not need a trade war, especially when we import so much of our necessities.
But I would like to see stuff like COOL get implemented the way it was designed to be.
If you know where you’re damned shirt & seafood etc come from, why is it so difficult to say where your beef comes from? Labeling where a product comes from is not worthy of a WTO lawsuit/hearing like Mexico & Canada are doing.
Argh. Nobody seems to care about COOL.
Let’s just give the American public the right education to make a choice & then if Americans want to buy Iranian hotdogs, let them!

Badger40 on February 13, 2009 at 12:05 PM

American companies such as Caterpillar compete for similar infrastructure projects in other countries and would love massive amounts of revenue if they got blocked from those contracts.

A little nit to pick here, shouldn’t that be “lose” rather than “love” massive amounts of revenue? Maybe it’s too close to Valentine’s Day!

Otherwise, a great post, and it is a GOOD thing when the Leader of the Sheeple gets a reality check from the Rust Belt and spares us from the next Smoot-Hawley Act.

Oh, remember that little NAFTA kerfuffle? That was just campaign rhetoric.

Steve Z on February 13, 2009 at 12:07 PM

The G-7 is meeting in Rome. I read that they are pissed at the buy American stuff, and have made it known.

I assume Pelosi is going to Rome for this, but why? Who represents us now in the G-7?

JiangxiDad on February 13, 2009 at 11:55 AM

One day, Pelosi and Rome are going to come to grips and Pelosi is going to melt into all that plastic that she keeps selling as her soul.

Lourdes on February 13, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Hopey and Change = Wishy and Washy.

At least this time he wishy-washed in the right direction.

DuctTapeMyBrain on February 13, 2009 at 12:12 PM

The G-7 is meeting in Rome. I read that they are pissed at the buy American stuff, and have made it known.

I assume Pelosi is going to Rome for this, but why? Who represents us now in the G-7?

JiangxiDad on February 13, 2009 at 11:55 AM

I’m starting to wonder who’s in charge: Dear Leader or now Empress Pelosi (writing the bill in secret, suspending regular order, demanding a quick vote).

Unlike Empress Palpatine, Empress Pelosi is moving us to the dark side.

rbj on February 13, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Without protectionism, who is going to buy the overpriced union made crap that is in our future as a result of the Democrats effort to re-unionize the labor force?

I’m sure not and neither will anyone else in their right mind.

So this will require more bailouts of industries saddled with overpaid, indolent, unproductive union “labor”.

NoDonkey on February 13, 2009 at 12:14 PM

The G-7 is meeting in Rome. I read that they are pissed at the buy American stuff, and have made it known.

I assume Pelosi is going to Rome for this, but why? Who represents us now in the G-7?

JiangxiDad on February 13, 2009 at 11:55 AM

I’m starting to wonder who’s in charge: Dear Leader or now Empress Pelosi (writing the bill in secret, suspending regular order, demanding a quick vote).

Unlike Empress Palpatine, Empress Pelosi is moving us to the dark side.

Not sure what happened above.

rbj on February 13, 2009 at 12:15 PM

thought the sign resembled that of the NRA (Nat Relief Act) G Reynolds Beck talked about the NRA recently on Fox.

PIMF

Jed1899 on February 13, 2009 at 12:16 PM

Did it really play in Peoria?

unclesmrgol on February 13, 2009 at 12:18 PM

That logo is too goatse-ish.

Dave Rywall on February 13, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Heh. From UAW President Ron Gettelfinger’s endorsement of Obama in June:

“…he understands the need to change our trade policies so that U.S. workers and U.S. companies can compete fairly in the global economy..”

How’s that working out for you, Ron?

Shirley on February 13, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Caterpillar isn’t alone; Jeffrey Immelt of GE, one of Barry’s newly minted economic advisors, has been against these job-killing provisions too:

Nov. 5 2008 (Bloomberg) — General Electric Co. and Caterpillar Inc. say the Obama administration should keep trade as open as possible to help boost exports and should resist lawmaker calls for protectionism during the global financial crisis.

“When people are afraid, they want to create barriers to trade,’’ GE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said in an Oct. 27 speech at Columbia University in New York. “It would be a real crime, I think, if we allowed the current economic volatility to make us move backward in globalization.’’…

GE gets more than half of its sales from overseas as the world’s biggest maker of power-plant turbines, jet engines and medical-imaging equipment. Caterpillar, the largest maker of backhoes and excavators, exports half the machines built in some U.S. plants.

Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Illinois, supports a proposed free-trade agreement with Colombia, which Oberhelman said unfairly imposes tariffs on U.S.-made goods entering the country. “They’re already exporting everything free, and we have to pay to export there,’’ he said.

Hopefully, these two can convince Barack to stop his idiotic opposition to the CFTA too.

Buy Danish on February 13, 2009 at 12:26 PM

That logo is too goatse-ish.

Dave Rywall on February 13, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Considering what Dear Leader and Empress Pelosi and Reid want to do to us (and the next generation), it’s appropriate.

Bend over. Grab ankles.

rbj on February 13, 2009 at 12:27 PM

That logo is too goatse-ish.

Dave Rywall on February 13, 2009 at 12:19 PM

ROFL

First post of yours that I’ve liked.

cryptojunkie on February 13, 2009 at 12:29 PM

I half-heard Glenn Beck talking about B-HO partially removing the “Buy American” clause, but leaving it in for specific countries. Nothing really significant, unless you consider trade with countries like CHINA and INDIA (among others) significant.

…but I came in late on his rant, and didn’t hear it all. Can someone else confirm (or not) his statements.

Sorry, but I haven’t had a chance to read the entire bill yet, but its encouraging to note that Fancy Nancy has said just yesterday, while promising a 48-hour public review period, that it was vital to see the language of a bill before making decisions.

“With all of this you have to see the language…Around here language means a lot…And not only just I had to see it, I had to show it to my colleagues and my caucus. We wanted to take all the time that was necessary to make sure it was right.”

So surely she’ll allow plenty of time to digest the bill, right? RIGHT?

ornery_independent on February 13, 2009 at 12:32 PM

A Pyhrric victory.. The Dems would have had to modify the Stimulus legislation to repeal this provision two weeks after it passed when the tit-for tat started and the pressure for the repeal was too much to bear.

Were getting played by choosing these low hanging fruits, akin to being baited into looking for spelling errors and ignoring the writing. Meanwhile, the new, really big, long term, never-to-be eliminated cultural/social/governmental programs that are in no way stimulus and should be considered independently and individually by Congress are still in there and if, or when we get to lambasting them, they can and will say we’re never satisfied and constantly obstructionist.

Dusty on February 13, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Is the hire American (e-verify) provision in the final bill?

MayBee on February 13, 2009 at 12:44 PM

How do we actually know that the “Buy American” cluases have been removed from the bill? Who has actually read it to be sure? Certainly not Obambi.

NeighborhoodCatLady on February 13, 2009 at 12:45 PM

Ha. China trumps the unions. A hard pill to swallow for these moops. I wonder what else China will force them to swallow when Geithner gets on his hands and knees and beds them to buy $400 billion more in debr?

genso on February 13, 2009 at 12:49 PM

That would be “begs”….sorry, emotions and all.

genso on February 13, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Sell Out America: Vote Obama

cntrlfrk on February 13, 2009 at 12:52 PM

Please would you folks stop trying to make it sound like Obama lied or something.

This is just another example of, what did he call it, “heated rhetoric of the campaign”. We all should have know it was just for show, he told us so.

OBQuiet on February 13, 2009 at 12:57 PM

Please would you folks stop trying to make it sound like Obama lied or something.

This is just another example of, what did he call it, “heated rhetoric of the campaign”. We all should have know it was just for show, he told us so.

OBQuiet on February 13, 2009 at 12:57 PM

You’re not serious….are you?

genso on February 13, 2009 at 1:02 PM

That would be “begs”….sorry, emotions and all.

genso on February 13, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Not so sure that your first entry was that far off.

thomasaur on February 13, 2009 at 1:03 PM

Not so sure that your first entry was that far off.

thomasaur on February 13, 2009 at 1:03 PM

Ha. The scary part of this is that if our economy drags along like Japan’s did for too long, the Chinese will have few reasons to continue to support us. We’re no good to them unless we consume. For many reasons, the rise of the Chinese economy was helped by the decline of the Japanese economy.

genso on February 13, 2009 at 1:05 PM

Anything that Team Barry and the KADAPs (Kool-Aid Drinkers of America Party) promises I have learned to expect the opposite. Why is this any different?

DL13 on February 13, 2009 at 1:22 PM

This is why Obama will be a one-term president. Make no mistake, he’s smart enough to try to avoid the mistakes of the Clinton administration that cost them a Democratic Congress. But he’s saddled with a Congress that is far more out of control than Clinton’s Congress was, and they’re going to keep pushing their legislation too far to the left for the American public to accept.

End result: over-reach. And ironically, we may well have one of the most liberal presidents EVER trying to restrain the über-liberal Congress, in hope of getting re-elected.

tom on February 13, 2009 at 1:44 PM

This is why Obama will be a one-term president. Make no mistake, he’s smart enough to try to avoid the mistakes of the Clinton administration that cost them a Democratic Congress. But he’s saddled with a Congress that is far more out of control than Clinton’s Congress was, and they’re going to keep pushing their legislation too far to the left for the American public to accept.

End result: over-reach. And ironically, we may well have one of the most liberal presidents EVER trying to restrain the über-liberal Congress, in hope of getting re-elected.

tom on February 13, 2009 at 1:44 PM

I tend to disagree. I think Obama is letting them run with this. Other than the ‘buy American” issue that China back-handed him on, what has he tried to hold them back on?

genso on February 13, 2009 at 1:48 PM

This is why Obama will be a one-term president. Make no mistake, he’s smart enough to try to avoid the mistakes of the Clinton administration that cost them a Democratic Congress. But he’s saddled with a Congress that is far more out of control than Clinton’s Congress was, and they’re going to keep pushing their legislation too far to the left for the American public to accept.

End result: over-reach. And ironically, we may well have one of the most liberal presidents EVER trying to restrain the über-liberal Congress, in hope of getting re-elected.

tom on February 13, 2009 at 1:44 PM

I tend to disagree. I think Obama is letting them run with this. Other than the ‘buy American” issue that China back-handed him on, what has he tried to hold them back on?

genso on February 13, 2009 at 1:48 PM

I’m frankly not even sure that Obama is trying to hold Congress back on this particular issue, at least until it became obvious he had no choice. But the point remains, on the few issues where Obama is smart enough to know a particular action would be over-reaching, the far-left Democratic Congress is still going to force an over-reach.

I think Obama will try to hold them back when he perceives a possible threat to his re-election. I don’t think he’ll be able to, and he won’t want to be seen failing to, so his efforts will not be visible. I’m still betting that he’s going to be ready to kill Pelosi before it’s all over.

Of course, given Obama’s likely connections to the mob, that may not be so theoretical I’m sure nothing will actually happen.

tom on February 13, 2009 at 2:03 PM

CFTA too.

Buy Danish on February 13, 2009 at 12:26 PM

Do you mean CAFTA-Central American Free Trade Agreement?
If so, remember that the ‘free trade’ these people are talking about will only probably drown them in more poverty & they certainly will not be buying any of OUR stuff. The avg citizen there doesn’t have the $$ to do it.
So basically we are just going to do another NAFTA where we can get cheap stuff at the expense of other country’s citizens & in the meantime, stiff our own industries bcs those other country’s citizens are either incapable or refusing to buy any of our stuff.

Badger40 on February 13, 2009 at 2:11 PM

Badger40 on February 13, 2009 at 2:11 PM

Do you think our trade with China is drowning that country in poverty? After all, the Chinese workers don’t make the same kind of wages that we have here.

genso on February 13, 2009 at 2:13 PM

Is the hire American (e-verify) provision in the final bill?

MayBee on February 13, 2009 at 12:44 PM

I had heard that E-verify had been stripped from the final bill, but I can’t find confirmation of that now.

ornery_independent on February 13, 2009 at 3:18 PM

Badger40 on February 13, 2009 at 2:11 PM

I’m referring to the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

To repeat an earlier point I cited:

Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Illinois, supports a proposed free-trade agreement with Colombia, which Oberhelman said unfairly imposes tariffs on U.S.-made goods entering the country. “They’re already exporting everything free, and we have to pay to export there,’’ he said.

You’ll forgive me for not taking the side of the AFL-CIO.

Buy Danish on February 13, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Congress Approves Protectionist Measure That Could Spark Trade War
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2009/02/13/congress-approves-protectionist-measure-spark-trade-war/

Major partners, including the European Union and Canada, say the legislation favoring U.S. steel, iron and manufactured goods for government projects could undermine pledges by the leaders of major economies not to resort to perfectionism during the world economic downturn.

WASHINGTON – Congress approved protectionist measures in a $789 billion stimulus bill Friday that U.S. trading partners have warned could spark a trade war.

Baxter Greene on February 14, 2009 at 2:52 AM

you’ll make a fine President by 2067

AHA! So you’re incurable optimist, huh?

oldleprechaun on February 14, 2009 at 12:53 PM