The President who promised us that he would re-engage the world and put to the side the supposed unilateralism and arrogance of the Bush Administration has raised hackles across the world with the news that the Obama Administration is pushing for “Buy American” provisions in the new stimulus act.
Now, the Administration appears to be backtracking on this utterly protectionist proposal. And a good thing too. Because “Buy American” provisions are lousy policy and the rest of the world is mighty ticked off:
The issue may cloud Obama’s trip to Canada on Feb. 19, his first journey outside U.S. borders as president. Officials in Canada, the top U.S. trade partner, are criticizing a part of legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 28 that requires the use of U.S.-made iron and steel in infrastructure projects.
“U.S. protectionism is about to make Canada’s recession a lot worse,” Ralph Goodale, house leader for the opposition Liberal Party, said today in Parliament.
[. . .]
The U.S. provision is “clearly against trade agreements,” and Canada would be able to file a complaint under either the North American Free Trade Agreement or with the World Trade Organization, said Simon Potter, an international trade lawyer with McCarthy Tetrault in Montreal.
You know, if the Obama Administration was really serious about engaging the rest of the world and treating its allies and partners with respect, instead of with the scorn the President believes the Bush Administration treated American allies with, we would not have had to worry about the implementation of “Buy American” provisions in the first place. And if the so-called “reality-based community” really lived up to its name, we would not have to educate them on why “Buy American” protectionism will harm America and the world in general.
Alas, the Obama Administration doesn’t quite live up to its billing, does it? Indeed, it continues to act like the very caricature it and other Democrats drew of the Bush Administration. Pretty soon, Barack Obama is going to have to get himself a ranch in Crawford, Texas and start clearing brush while the cameras are around.