Part of the stimulus bill could create between 1,000 and 9,000 new jobs . . . at the price of 65,000 existing ones! With the hope of creating jobs, the "Buy American" provision of the bill mandates that only US-made iron and steel be used in public works projects, but it could have unintended consequences.
Other countries would likely react to the provision by prohibiting the use of US products in their public works, resulting in the residual American job loss. The US does about $104 billion in export business for other countries' public works projects. Hoping to change the Senate's mind, the EU has issued a warning that the bill might violate a WTO treaty signed by the US, the EU, and Japan.
While the figures are startling, the Alliance for American Manufacturing says they're not accurate. That group generously estimates that 77,000 jobs will be created if only domestic steel can be used, thus making it a net gain in US jobs. In response, President Obama said last night that he would try to water down the provision.
Should the US go ahead and exclusively support US steel companies through its public works projects, despite the possibility of retaliation by other countries?