February 4, 2009

Corporate Attack on Buy America Shows Another Trade Model is Necessary!

Please call your senators and urge them to keep Buy America provisions in the stimulus bill.

Dear Fair Trade Supporter,

The worst economic crisis in a generation. Lost jobs and homes. Crumbling roads and bridges. Congress knows it must take action to stimulate the economy. One key part of their plan is to create American jobs by investing in improving our country's infrastructure.

But some in corporate America are trying to block the recovery. They are attacking "Buy America" proposals that direct some of the over $800 billion stimulus bill towards purchasing U.S.-made products for highway and other transit projects. These multinational corporations – among the nation's worst chronic offshorers – have launched a misleading scare campaign, claiming that Congress' decision to invest our tax dollars in our country violates World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Call your senators today and tell them you want a stimulus package that has broad Buy America provisions so this massive expenditure of our tax dollars creates jobs here.

Retrograde WTO rules do undermine lots of non-trade policy, and even some procurement policies. But using U.S. steel and iron in highway and transit projects has been U.S. policy for decades. Click here to find out why the corporate attack on Buy America is based on a lie.

As Lori Wallach and I argue in a column over at Huffington Post, the larger question raised by this brouhaha over Buy America is why there are any limits in a "trade" agreement on how a democratically elected legislature decides to spend taxpayer dollars when funding roads, bridges and projects at home.

Nations – not just the U.S., but all nations – should have a right to invest in themselves, spend their tax dollars according to the priorities set by their democratically elected officials, and pursue other public-interest policies. President Obama and the last two classes of freshmen members of Congress came to office on pledges to overhaul the failed globalization policies of the past. We need to make sure they translate those pledges into action and redo these overreaching trade deals.

But first, we need to make sure that the important Buy America terms are not the latest casualty in the corporate trade attack. Last week, the House passed a stimulus bill which gave preferences to U.S.-made iron and steel in transit projects and school buildings, and to U.S.-made uniforms for the Transportation Security Administration. The initial Senate version expands on some of these provisions.

The Senate could vote as soon as this week. Corporate opponents like General Electric, Caterpillar and the Chamber of Commerce are pushing to get the Buy America requirement removed from the bill.

Call your senators today and tell them to keep the Buy America provisions in the stimulus package so our tax dollars create jobs here. Then, tell a friend!

Thank you for all you do,
Todd Tucker, Research Director
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division

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