Joe Biden, our Amtrak loving Vice President (or was that Secretary of State), is sounding increasingly like the blue-collar fall-guy for Obama's protectionist leanings. According to a recent Washington Post article Vice President Biden will now be leading a task force designed to improve life for the middle class. As part of this effort he has "expressed support for the Buy American proposal, which has ignited a debate internationally over the specter of rising U.S. protectionism." But don't take the global communities' word for it. Listen to the real Joe himself on the topic of trade: "I don't view that as some of the pure free-traders view it, as a harbinger of protectionism ... I think it's legitimate to have some portions of Buy American in it." So this is just rhetoric, you say, but is it? Considering that the House stimulus bill "would mostly bar foreign steel and iron from the infrastructure projects laid out by the $819 billion economic package," I would suggest we're already seeing protectionist policy action in place already.
I supposed you could always take the view of Scott Paul, "executive director of the District-based Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership of the United Steelworkers union, some domestic steel manufacturers and related companies" who notes in the same article "domestic sourcing is not protectionism. It is a long-standing policy of the U.S. government that is completely compliant with our international trade obligations." Perhaps, but then again, many of us will feel trade restrictions closer to home. Note to Joe: the Acela express trains you love so much came from French and Canadian companies. Perhaps you'd like to get back on the old rusty domestic metro liners when your term is over.