Biden Set To Entrench Trumpist Protectionism With ‘Buy American’ Order
President Joe Biden took office with a promise to bridge America’s deep political divides—but, in practice, that might look a lot like entrenching some of the mistakes of the Trump administration.
Not all of them, of course. In a flurry of Inauguration Day activity, Biden has already taken steps to undo some of his predecessor’s terrible immigration policies and signaled his intention to rejoin some global institutions that Trump disdained. When it comes to trade policy, however, the new president’s inclination toward openness and free exchange is less pronounced—and Trumpist protectionism is likely to remain in force, at least in some limited ways.
As part of Biden’s “First Ten Days” agenda, the White House is expected to issue an executive order “to strengthen Buy American provisions so the future of America is made in America,” according to a memo from Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff. The specifics of Biden’s “Buy American” plan remain sketchy for now, but his campaign promised an overhaul of government procurement rules to require a larger share of federal purchasing comes from domestic suppliers—and to cut the number of waivers granted to allow foreign purchasing.
In touting the plan shortly after the election, Biden promised to go even further. “No government contracts will be given to companies that don’t make their products in America,” he told The Washington Post.
While it may be politically expedient, that kind of protectionism would force taxpayers to pay higher costs for government projects and would likely mean that fewer projects get funded in the first place. It would disrupt cross-border supply chains that provide much of what American governments need to keep sewer systems running and roads paved.
Indeed, businesses in Canada are already bracing for the Biden administration to dou
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