Sunday, February 1, 2009

U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to spend stimulus $s overseas

Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers of America, warns that the federal stimulus package passed by the House of Representatives could be undermined if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and large multi-national corporations get their way.

The $800 plus billion stimulus is designed to pull the United States out of a deep recession that has caused over 2.55 million layoffs. A record number of Americans are now receiving unemployment compensation.

As Businessweek reported in its cover story a few weeks ago, taxpayers will lose a major bang for their buck if their stimulus money is spent on products and commodities made overseas. Thus, the House of Representatives included language in the stimulus bill aimed at ensuring that when the stimulus money is spent, it will create jobs at home.

But Gerard cautions:

"...the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to spend the tax dollars of unemployed Americans to create jobs in China and Indonesia, Korea and India...

...15 business groups sent a letter to Congress opposing provisions added to the recovery package that would strengthen existing laws requiring government agencies buy American steel and other products when building public works projects with tax dollars.

The package is, essentially, Americans agreeing to increase their national debt to revive an economy sucker punched by greedy Wall Street gamblers. So when business interests want to spend those tax dollars overseas, to create jobs there at the expense of unemployed Americans, while at the same time increasing the U.S. trade deficit, frankly, it looks a bit like treason.

To survive this economic catastrophe, Americans must assert themselves as economic patriots. They must stand up to the likes of the Chamber and the Roundtable and call them out for being economic traitors to the United States of America.

Next week the U.S. Senate will debate and pass its version of the stimulus. They should keep the Buy American provisions in the bill.

The Chamber and the Emergency Committee for American Trade are spending millions on lobbyists to weaken the very provisions that steer stimulus dollars towards the purchase of American produced goods and services. They are receiving support from companies like Caterpillar and General Electric (not surprisingly, two of the biggest job outsourcers) as well as the usual cast of Washington's corporate-funded think tanks and private equity firms like the Carlyle Group who make the hysterical claim that ensuring American tax dollars are spent in America will somehow initiate a global "trade war."

The groups and companies lobbying against the Buy American provisions in the stimulus package are trying to defend a business model that relies on economic policies that effectively incentivize corporations to ship jobs overseas, where they can avoid unions, exploit labor, and destroy the environment. Buy American laws that reward domestic businesses for staying in this country are a threat to the multinational corporate lobby.

The Chamber and its allies have no loyalty to this country or its working people. Their sole commitment is to the bottom line.

They must be stopped.

Gerard's entire article is linked.


Jeff Werstein said...

Please keep us updated on this bill and the fate of the buy american provisions!

Ed Werstein said...

This is a complex issue. Economic protectionism comes with economic risks as well as the advantages.
Albert Einstein once wrote: "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."
While I oppose coporate multi-nationals, the vision of building a healthy global economy that serves common people could get thrown out the window as nationalist protectionism gets ushered in the door. Ours is not the only government throwing public money into a failing economy right now. And many of those forreign companies are exporters of jobs to the US.
American workers build German cars in Alabama, Japanese cars in Tennessee & Indiana, and refine Canadian crude oil in Pennsylvania. And our transportation workers unload and ship goods from around the world.
Again, while I agree that no corporate hogs should be feeding at the public trough right now to fuel their own globalization plan, couldn't American workers lose as much as they gain?