Thursday, January 29, 2009

And while we're at it, let's break a few treaties and have a trade war

The House pork bill passed yesterday, and now some of our allies are ... a little apprehensive:

The House-approved plan's "Buy American" provision generally prohibits the purchase of foreign iron and steel for any infrastructure project in the bill.

The European Union's trade commissioner, Catherine Ashton, pre-emptively voiced concern about the US measure.
"We are looking into the situation. ... Before we have the final text ... it would be premature to take a stance on it," Ashton's spokesman, Peter Power, said in Brussels.

"However, the one thing we can be absolutely certain about, is if a bill is passed which prohibits the sale or purchase of European goods on American territory, that is something we will not stand idly by and ignore," he said.

Canada's government said it is concerned about US protectionism in the economic stimulus and its diplomats were lobbying US makers against the "Buy American" drive.

"We're always concerned when there are protectionist pressures in the United States," Industry Minister Tony Clement told public broadcaster CBC.

"At the same time the United States has treaty obligations," he said, citing US membership in the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"And we expect the United States to live up to its treaty obligations of open and fair trade."

About 40 percent of Canadian steel is sold in the United States and Canada imports steel from its southern neighbor.


Of course, threatening Canada (and then quietly wimping out on those threats) is nothing new for President Obama. Let's go back to last June:

He gave Hillary Clinton quite a dressing down during the primaries in the Rust Belt for having once supported NAFTA, a treaty Barack called "devastating." Obama said he'd use the threat of withdrawal from the treaty as a "hammer" to wring concessions out of Canada and Mexico. And sure, his top economics aide told a Canadian consulate official on the QT that Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric was "more about political posturing than a clear articulation of policy plans."


So maybe a giant does of protectionism goes well with $825 billion in Pork.

[h/t Kids Prefer Cheese]

4 comments:

Delaware Watch said...

"And sure, his top economics aide told a Canadian consulate official on the QT that Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric was "more about political posturing than a clear articulation of policy plans."

An aide makes a statement and that is evidence of Obama's position. That conclusion is just as weak today as it was then.

Bowly said...

So what are you saying, Dana? That the aide was wrong when he implied that Obama wasn't protectionist?

Delaware Watch said...

I am saying that one is not entitled to draw the hasty conclusion that Obama isn't protectionist on the basis of an aide's comment.

Bowly said...

So the aide might have been wrong when he implied Obama wasn't protectionist.

"Gentlemen, Obama here may talk like a protectionist, and look like a protectionist, but don't let that fool you: he really is a protectionist."

Of course (as usual) this quibbling over Goolsbee's slip of the tongue has nothing to do with the major topic at hand, which is that the Economic PATRIOT Act has an anti-free trade provision.