"Buy U.S.A." Provision Makes World Miss Bush

Less than a month after Obama took office, the world already started to miss George W. Bush. While United States Vice President Biden was extending an olive branch in Europe, the U.S. Congress was wielding a big stick of trade protectionism. The world currently sees a U.S. that is reducing its affection for military dominance, while increasing its affection for trade dominance.

Late February 4, the U.S. Senate rejected deletion of the Buy American provision, merely softening it, instead. Two days later, the Senate passed the Employ American Workers Act, which required banks receiving subsidies to give preference to Americans when hiring.

According to the Buy American provision, public projects funded by the economic stimulus package must use iron and steel produced by the U.S.. The provision also requires that all U.S. Transportation Security Administration uniform and textile products truly be made in the U.S.. As a result of a strong reaction by the European Union, Japan and other countries, the Senate made slight amendments, requiring the U.S. to act in a manner “consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements.” Thus, countries which have signed trade agreements with the U.S. have a certain degree of immunity.

Just as The New York Times analyzed, as the world joins hands to deal with the international financial crisis in this critical time, this provision would cause as much trouble as trade protectionism. Although Obama made it clear earlier that he wanted Congress to deal carefully with this provision – which could lead to trade war, having triggered the strongest wave of worldwide criticism since he took office – because this provision remains protected, Obama appears weak.

We all remember the most intense time in the Obama campaign, when many people contended that the U.S. was putting out a strong president. Everyone was looking forward to a quick strengthening of the U.S. economy under his leadership, as well as a resulting change in the image of the U.S.. However, Obama’s initial performance has made people start to doubt, leaving us to wonder whether Americans have expected a little too much of their young president.

Today, the political foundation of the U.S. has undergone profound change. The power of the president has become constrained, most notably by Congress. After looking at the Buy American provision, Congress and lobbying groups began fierce competition; it is not hard to understand what this means. As an article in London’s Financial Times said, in this grave time of economic crisis, “angry citizens are more important than abstract theories.” No member can lose sight of the battle of the votes involved in politics, and it’s hard for a president to take himself out of the battlefield to make a sensible and strong decision.

Many saw former President George W. Bush’s cowboy style of leadership as immature. But actually, for the president of a powerful country in a time of crisis, a cowboy style may be much better than indecision and the tying up of interests of the parties involved, making progress difficult. The U.S. not only needs reform – it needs the power to reform. Without that power, it will be impossible to be successful. Success in dealing with the crisis depends not only on charisma and slogans, but on leadership ability, authority, courage and foresight to go beyond policies of different interest groups. Does Obama have this power? This question has been answered in less than one month after his taking office.

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1 Comment

  1. well well well protectism.

    how big is our trade balance with china?

    that is what americans are angry about.

    we are losing high paying jobs to china to enhance corp profits that not not trickleing down to the middle class.

    americans are losing their wealth at a rapid rate and they are angry.

    this deregulation trickle down theory has bankrupted america.

    reagan put capitalism on steorids. capitalism will self destruct but reagan’s free trade approach was designed for the have mores to have more.

    and the middle class is paying a price for their trust and ignorance of the tenents of capitalism.

    with communism man exploits man with capitalism it is the other way around. we are now witnessing that self destruction of capitalism in america.

    but in reality what did we americans do with our wealth the last 6 decades but do imperialism and nation building and played the role of super power. ie a national ego thing.

    700 american military bases around the world and americans dont have a clue they are imperialists. that is the power of patroitism and nationalism paradigms.

    ike warned us in 1961 what would happen if we did not detune our military but no one listened.

    too much money for the few in our wars for profits.

    in the end our loss of wealth will benefit the world as someday we will have to quit playing the bully role in the world and discontinue our wars for profits.

    wealth can be as harsh a teacher as poverty.

    spiritual laws apply to nations as well as individuals.

    spiritual laws are not religious laws.

    ie christianity died on the cross but spiritual laws are always present.

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