An opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times today points out that President Obama’s failure to commit to a pro-trade agenda has resulted in “buy American” fever permeating the government procurement market. This outcome has already created backlash.
Canadian municipalities have responded with “don’t buy American” rules, while the Chinese and others have introduced their own buy-local provisions, all to the chagrin of U.S. exporters and the general economy. […] the Mexican government imposed $2.4 billion in retaliatory duties on about 90 U.S. exports, and a Mexican trucking association filed a $6-billion lawsuit against the U.S. government [for being in violation of NAFTA].
The authors highlight that middle-income and low-income Americans pay the highest price for protectionism.
Democrats who seek to restrict trade must be held accountable when they also claim to speak for Main Street. Middle-income Americans spend more of their paychecks on imports than do wealthy Americans. Lower-income families spend a higher percentage of their budgets on necessities such as food, clothing and shelter (steel, lumber, cement), all of which face above-average import duties because of the efforts of unions and other protectionist lobbies. Tariffs are a highly regressive tax, which is supposed to be anathema to every card-carrying Democrat.