Buy America Clause Benefits Foreign Companies

The great irony of the "buy American" clause snaking its way through the U.S. Congress is that it would force Americans to buy steel from factories that, while on U.S. soil, are owned mainly by foreigners. In its current form, the clause would require that projects paid for by the $900 billion stimulus package, like new schools and wind farms, use only American-made steel. (Some versions of the bill extend the requirement beyond steel to all "manufactured products.") Proponents say it would create jobs, critics say it violates international law, but everyone agrees that most U.S. steel mills are now owned abroad. During the commodity boom of the last few years, global players like ArcelorMittal (Britain), Gerdau (Brazil), SSAB (Sweden) and Severstal (Russia) snatched up ailing or shuttered factories, including prized pieces of Americana like the Bethlehem Steel mill in eastern Pennsylvania. All in all, foreign firms now control around two thirds of the U.S. industry. Buy American? It's a bailout for Russian oligarchs.