On those rare occasions in 2020 when candidate Joe Biden emerged from his basement to stumble through a campaign stump speech, a common theme was that his administration would do more to use the vast spending powers of the federal government to help American businesses.
According to Biden, previous presidents have largely failed to take advantage of existing laws meant to give preference to U.S. businesses in the federal procurement of goods and services.
The political advantages of Biden’s “Made in America” commitments were obvious. No president in modern U.S. history has done more than Donald Trump to make “America First” the standard upon which all policies should be judged.
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By emphasizing “Made in America,” Biden attempted to out-MAGA the man who captured the White House in 2016 by focusing on the forgotten blue-collar men and women of economically depressed parts of America’s Heartland.
Whether the strategy worked is a question that has yet to be answered. Exit polling seems to suggest the outcome of the 2020 election was likely more the result of personality differences between the candidates and the effects of coronavirus-related policies than it was anything else.
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But President Biden knows that if he or a Democratic successor is to be victorious in 2024, winning over the hearts and minds of blue-collar voters in “flyover country” who identify as Democrats but have become increasingly sympathetic to the Republican Party is likely going to be essential.
In an effort to expand support among that key demographic, Biden recently issued a “Made in America” executive order that will require federal agencies to spend a greater proportion of their budgets on goods and services offered by U.S. companies.
At first glance, the order seems relatively uncontroversial to many on the ideological left and right. According to the White House, the federal government spends more than $600 billion on federal contracts alone. It is more than reasonable to expect that those taxpayer dollars be paid to American businesses rather than sent overseas, whenever possible.
A closer look at Biden’s executive order, however, reveals there is much more to the White House’s Made in America policy than meets the eye.
Biden’s plan requires the creation of a Made in America Office, the apparent acronym of which is, quite incredibly, “MAO.” MAO, which will be housed in the Office of Management and Budget, will work as the Biden administration’s Made in America hall monitor, ensuring that the behemoth federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., spends its vast resources on American products and services and issuing exemptions to the policy, when appropriate.
But MAO will not merely require other federal agencies to buy from American businesses. The Biden administration has signaled it will also mandate that the federal government buy from U.S. businesses that pursue certain left-wing goals.
According to an official statement of the White House, Biden’s Made in America executive order “is deeply intertwined with the President’s commitment to invest in American manufacturing, including clean energy and critical supply chains, grow good-paying, union jobs, and advance racial equity.”
And there is no telling what other criteria might be fabricated in the months and years ahead by the Biden administration to help push left-wing goals.
Additionally, the wording of the executive order is so vague, MAO could interpret its directive as a justification to exclude just about any business it wants from gaining a federal contract, presumably even if that business is offering the government the best service at the lowest cost.
The order’s “policy” section states, “The United States Government should, whenever possible, procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America’s workers thrive.”
Thanks to the White House’s statement, we now know that at the very least, the “strategic industries” mentioned in the executive order include costly, inefficient “green” companies linked to wind and solar energy, and it seems apparent the mandate to “help America’s workers thrive” includes union jobs and promoting “racial equity.”
When applied to the everyday workings of the gargantuan federal government, these policies could have a large effect on how countless businesses and industries in the United States operate.
Under Biden’s Made in America order, it appears, for example, a paper company seeking a federal contract to supply its products to a government agency might have its offer rejected because the business employs “too few” workers of one or more racial groups. And, of course, the formula for making such a determination would almost certainly be placed in the hands of MAO, or some other federal office.
Similarly, a business with poorer-quality products or services but a greater proportion of union workers or a greater reliance on electric cars might have an edge over a more efficient business that has not been unionized or that utilizes gasoline-powered vehicles.
And there is no telling what other criteria might be fabricated in the months and years ahead by the Biden administration to help push left-wing goals. After all, nearly any social justice cause could fit into Biden’s “help workers thrive” box.
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Requiring the federal government to “buy American” is arguably a noble cause, but forcing businesses to adopt leftist principles and still-unclear social justice mandates is, at best, an extremely worrisome expansion of the federal government’s power over the marketplace.
And the problem is only likely to get worse as the national government spends increasingly more money in the years ahead – a promise the Biden administration seems intent on keeping.
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