Protectionism Perfected | Taxpayers for Common Sense

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Protectionism Perfected

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March 02, 2017

'Buy American' sounds good, but the Pentagon shouldn’t be used as a jobs program.


Congress is finally getting serious about passing a Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Appropriations Bill.

Nope, not a typo. Yep, we said Fiscal Year 2017. The fiscal year that started on October 1, 2016. So, by our count, the bill to fund the Pentagon is a mere five months late.

But we’re not writing to berate Congress for, again, shirking its responsibility to fund the federal government in a timely and fiscally responsible way. Instead, we focus our attention on the continuing use of the annual Pentagon spending bill to protect various sectors of the American manufacturing economy.

First, the Berry Amendment from the Second World War, which requires uniforms, tents and tarpaulins purchased by the Pentagon to be constructed in the U.S. with 100% domestic content (thread, buttons, etc), is extended to cover the purchases of all U.S. flags.

Next, welded shipboard anchor and mooring chain 4 inches in diameter and under must come exclusively from U.S. sources.

And then there’s carbon, alloy, or armor steel plate. Pentagon, don’t think about buying any of that from a foreign source.

Finally, ball and roller bearings received the same protectionist treatment.


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At TCS we’ve said this before and we’ll keep saying it: the Pentagon should be allowed to set a fair standard for goods and materials and execute a contract with the company providing the best value that meets the standard.

These protectionist provisions are not about security. They are about doing a favor for your friends or campaign contributors. It’s the worst type of crony-capitalism.

The Pentagon budget should never be used as a jobs program. This type of soft “earmarking” to benefit certain U.S. contractors must stop.

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