Polish off Protectionism

President Barack Obama may soon have his chance to show the world that âÄúwe are ready to lead once moreâÄù by vetoing any economic stimulus package that includes âÄúbuy AmericanâÄù provisions. The controversial clause in the House stimulus package requires stimulus-funded projects to utilize domestically-produced steel and iron ore over cheaper imports. The Senate version of the bill had gone even further to require that all âÄúmanufactured goodsâÄù bought through the stimulus be produced in America. These provisions emit a foul protectionist odor and must be stripped from the legislation. Ignoring the lessons of the infamous Smoot-Hawley tariffs of 1930 and the consensus of respectable economists everywhere , opportunist Rust Belt politicians like MinnesotaâÄôs own Rep. Jim Oberstar are willing to abandon fiscal prudence and risk global trade war to attempt a revival of long-stagnant American iron and steel markets. Global trade leaders have threatened retaliation if the United States is to adopt the âÄúbuy AmericanâÄù provisions , signaling the potential for the sort of domino effect of economic contraction we can and must avoid. Paying interest (thatâÄôs our burden, college students) on billions of loaned dollars (stimulus package) to buy overpriced steel and expensive labor represents the sort of shameful stewardship of public resources that got our nation into this mess in the first place. Instead of sending the world a message of fear and retreat, letâÄôs show the world that America is open for business âÄî that we are still a smart place to invest. Obama must veto any stimulus package that includes âÄúbuy AmericanâÄù sentiment. Now is the time to smash trade barriers, not erect them. Faith in the future health of the global economy and a spark of positive momentum is what the world economy needs âÄî not the costly fear and foolishness of protectionist politicians.