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When it comes to Protecting Our Troops, President Obama Should Buy American

During his campaign for the Presidency one of then Senator Obama’s recurrent pledges to American troops was that his White House would, “Fully Equip Our Troops for the Missions They Face: We must listen to our ground commanders when they tell us what kinds of technology and skills they need to fight most effectively.”  He further stated that, “We must prioritize getting vitally needed equipment to our Soldiers and Marines before lives are lost.”

More recently, President Obama has declared that his administration would do all it could to jumpstart job growth here in the United States by making statements such as, “What I am interested in is taking action right now, to help businesses create jobs right now, in the near term.”

It would follow that one means of creating such stimulus would be ensuring that, whenever possible, American companies should be given the ability to compete for the contracts to make the aforementioned ‘vitally needed equipment’ which would save the lives of our men and women in uniform.  What is more, when it is discovered that an American manufacturer makes a superior product in service our troops, that manufacturer should be rewarded by Uncle Sam.

Why then is this not happening?  More specifically, why is a company called Hesco Bastion (a British outfit) given a contract build steel barriers to protect our field troops against IEDs, bullets, and rocket attack while American companies who could produce a demonstrably finer product are left out in the cold?  After all, Hesco won’t pay any income tax, use any American made components or generate any jobs in the United States during the course of their employment.

Suffering under a 15 percent unemployment rate, folks in and around Rockford, Illinois might have some questions for the favorite son of their state and current President of the United States on this score considering that hundreds of manufacturing jobs could be created in their town by an American company – a company who’s steel barriers have been rated higher quality than their British counterpart by Obama’s Defense Department.

Still more questions might be asked by the steel plant workers in Indiana who would have been given the opportunity to produce 80 million pounds of steel per year and enlarge their workforce in order to meet this massive demand for American made raw material.

Perhaps the Teamsters who would have handled the 2,000 yearly steel deliveries between Indiana and Rockford and who would have enjoyed hundreds of trucking jobs being ‘created or saved’ would like to ask why the current government wouldn’t hire American workers.  Not to mention the curiosity of the Illinois subcontractors, small disadvantaged, minority and veteran owned businesses that would have collaborated as well.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D) and Governor Pat Quinn (D) are certainly stunned by the turn of events.  Obama’s friend and former colleague Sen. Durbin even went so far as to write the Defense Department saying, “…the outcome of the solicitations process has been a disappointment for the community and a source of concern for the company,” and that, “The downturn in the economy has been particularly hard on northern Illinois and the community would be proud to go to work to meet the needs of the United States.”

Also chagrined are Illinois Congressman Don Manzullo (R), Michael Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO, Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the General Assembly of the State of Illinois. 

The matter has even made it into the briefing room of the White House as Press Secretary Robert Gibbs – who was unable to answer the question – was asked about the matter last week.

The question is a simple one, the concerned parties are many, the economic stakes are high, and it should be asked one more time:  Why didn’t you buy American, Mr. President?

Stephen DeMaura is President of Americans for Job Security a non-profit, non-partisan trade association promoting pro-growth, pro-jobs public policy. Fore more information on AJS visit www.SaveJobs.org.

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