From the Hamilton Spectator (as a steel town newspaper, hardly a bystander in this arena), dated June 9th, 2009
Canada is launching a full court press in the U.S. Congress today against the Buy American provisions in the federal stimulus spending law.
The action is part of the ongoing campaign by our federal government to get the U.S. government to drop Buy America provisions that force U.S. municipalities and states to use American steel and manufacturing exclusively for projects paid by U.S. taxpayers.
The provisions are believed not to contravene international trade agreements because states and municipalities are sub-national jurisdictions and not subject to trade deals.
Sounds pretty weasily, doesn’t it? Sure we have these NAFTA provisions, and they apply to you, but they don’t apply to our states and municipalities. One wonders how Free Trade can have so many different meanings to different people.
Jim Zawacki, chairman of a metal-stamping manufacturer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was apologetic but firm as he doled out some “straight talk” to John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, at a town hall meeting this week.
Though Mr Zawacki has donated $1,000 […] to the Arizona senator’s campaign, he said he disagreed with Mr McCain’s commitment to free trade and challenged his suggestion that Michigan’s staggering 8.5 per cent unemployment rate could largely be fixed by retraining displaced workers at community colleges.
“Where are you going to find teachers to teach them? What we need to do is control some of these trade issues. What we are asking for is fair trade,” he said.
Mr McCain has admitted he has “a lot of work to do” to win over the likes of Mr Zawacki. This week, he travelled from Ohio to Wisconsin to persuade voters to reject “isolationism” in favour of an economic agenda centred on tax breaks for small businesses, free trade and cuts in government spending.
Many Republicans are betting their candidate’s message will resonate in the home state of the big three US car manufacturers.
Jim isn’t against Free Trade, but he wants it to be fair trade. Like most small stampers, he’d be OK with free trade on a level playing field.