Listening at last to his inner FDR, President Barack Obama is going straight at the Know-Nothing/Do-Nothing Republicans in Congress.
At a rally in September on a bridge connecting Rep. John Boehner's state of Ohio to Sen. Mitch McConnell's state of Kentucky, Obama challenged the two GOP leaders to back his plan for repairing and improving our country's deteriorating infrastructure.
“Help us rebuild this bridge,” he shouted out to Boehner and McConnell. “Help us rebuild America. Help us put this country back to work.”
Get our free emails
Yes, let's do it!
However, in addition to the usual recalcitrance of reactionary Republican leaders, another impediment stands in the way of success: many of the infrastructure jobs that would be created could end up in China.
Holy Uncle Sam! How is this possible?
It's due to a trap door that was built into the Buy American Act. This 1933 law gives preference to U.S. companies bidding on major infrastructure projects. However, it allows the general contractor to opt out of this requirement if the difference in U.S. and foreign bids is significant. This is no theoretical concern, for it's already happening.
For example, the $7-billion reconstruction of the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland is in the hands of a state-subsidized Chinese company that made the lowest bid.
While there are Americans involved in this huge project, the design, engineering, pre-fab tasks, supervision, and other work — as well as profits – are going to China. Consequently, California's hard-hit people and depressed economy are deprived of the wages, taxes, and consumer spending they would've gotten from some 3,000 jobs that went overseas.
Yes, let's approve Obama's infrastructure proposal, but let's improve it by nailing the opt-out trap door shut. For information, go to www.americanmanufacturing.org.