Smoot-Hawley tariffs worked so well in the 1930s, Democrats want to try them again now
Congressional leaders, trying to quell a dispute over “Buy American” provisions in the stimulus package, are crafting a version that would apply only when they don’t violate trade rules, according to industry officials and a congressional aide. . . .
The House Ways and Means Committee’s Democratic staff and aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, are working out the language, said a lobbyist who was briefed on the measure. The people familiar with the talks declined to be identified because the talks are confidential. Ways and Means spokesman Matthew Beck didn’t have an immediate comment, and Reid spokesman Jim Manley didn’t return a telephone message.
Steel companies, such as U.S. Steel Corp. and Nucor Corp., and labor unions are pushing language in the stimulus plan to mandate that projects use American-made iron, steel and other manufactured goods in building projects such as roads, bridges and tunnels. . . .
“We’ve always said this doesn’t violate our trade laws,” said Robert Baugh, executive director of the Industrial Union Council at the AFL-CIO. “If they need to restate it, fine.”
Some opponents of the Buy American plan, including Caterpillar Inc., Microsoft Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have said that even a version that doesn’t violate trade rules might spur protectionist measures around the world. . . .