Obama has sided with Republicans and biz types in opposing congressional Democrats' "Buy American" provisions in the stimulus bill, much to the chagrin of the Big Labor lobby.
I thought I had made up my mind on this when I read a story in the WSJ that put Obama on one side, and Harry Reid on the other (my instinct in such a choice is to go with Obama, every time). Besides, I'm a free-trader, and one of my beefs with Obama during the election is that he wasn't.
But when I mentioned that this morning, one of my colleagues strongly disagreed. She said (helping you guess who it was) that if taxpayers were putting up the dough, of course it should stay in this country.
Me, I don't want to take the global economy back to a bunch of little protectionist islands. If the economy starts to recover anywhere, I want the growth to flow freely. But I saw my colleague's argument.
Then, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins (below) came to see us this afternoon, and he talked about how our good friends in the Great White North — our biggest trading partners, the people we get the largest amount of oil from, etc. — are absolutely freaking out about the "Buy American" thing. And with good reason, from their perspective. And they are our good friends and allies. So I value their opinion.
Looking around, I see that Paul "Nobel Prize in Economics" Krugman is no help — on his blog, he argues it both ways (although I admit, I understand his anti-protectionist argument better than his wonkish one to the contrary).
What do you think?