n a rare public split with the Obama administration, four Democratic senators want to add a "Buy American" requirement to the 2009 stimulus package's renewable energy program, saying that without such a rule the $2 billion project is creating more jobs overseas than in the United States. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York calls the move a "no brainer." But the Obama administration says that making stimulus grants available to foreign firms encourages them to invest in the U.S., and the head of the American Wind Energy Association says cutting out non-U.S. companies would halt projects employing tens of thousands of Americans. Will the "Buy American" rule create U.S. jobs — or destroy them? (Watch a Fox report about the threat on American exceptionalism)
Spending stimulus money at home really is a no-brainer: This is so obviously a "good idea," says John Aloysius Farrell in U.S. News & World Report, it's hard to believe anyone would object. An American University study found that 80 percent of the stimulus money spent on wind turbines went to European, Chinese, and other foreign companies — that's "pure folly." If the work can be done here, with American workers, it should be.
"Good idea: Keep most stimulus package money from going abroad"
"Buy American" will kill green-energy jobs: The stimulus package is already "creating energy-related jobs in America," says Jacob Funk Kirkegaard in the Peterson Institute for International Economics website. And there has been a "surge in foreign investment" since 2008, which bodes well for U.S. wind power and "the jobs it can create." Unless, of course, Sen. Schumer & Co. slow our transition to green energy by sending foreign investors elsewhere.
"Senator Schumer's blowhard moment?"
Buying American isn't as simple as it sounds: Schumer's target is a $1.5 billion wind farm in Texas, says Keith Johnson in The Wall Street Journal, which would be financed and supplied by China. Schumer wants the expensive turbines to be built in the U.S. — the trouble is, Chinese turbines have American-made components, and U.S.-made turbines aren't "100 percent American." Buying American sounds good, but, in a global economy, doing it can be "tricky."
"Fickle breezes: Sen. Schumer takes aim at Chinese wind farm in Texas"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 ways to quickly become a master at anything
- The Warren Buffett formula: How you can get smarter
- The contentious policy at the heart of Cliven Bundy's armed standoff with the government
- This Japanese toilet should make Americans very worried
Subscribe to the Week