President Joe Biden vowed on Wednesday to increase accountability for federal agencies to buy products that have a 60 per cent or higher threshold of components made in America, insisting there’s ‘a new sheriff in town.’
Biden said that the hit on ‘Buying American’ at the federal level is hitting U.S. companies is a ‘double whammy’ because ’55 per cent is not high enough and second, contractors don’t have to tell us the total domestic content of their products, they just have to tell us they hit the threshold. And nobody’s checking.’
‘Well they’ve got a new sheriff in town,’the president said Wednesday following a tour of Mack Trucks manufacturing facility in Macungie, Pennsylvania. ‘We’re going to be checking.’
‘Oh I’m serious,’ he added. ‘I’m deadly earnest.’
The president finished the event with a ‘Freudian slip’ where he said he was vice president under President Donald Trump in 2009.
‘Let me close with this,’ Biden said. ‘Back in 2009, during the so-called Great Recession, the President asked me to be in charge of managing that piece, then President Trump— excuse me, Freudian slip, that was the last president. He caused – anyway.’
‘There’s a new sheriff in town!’ President Joe Biden vowed to increase accountability for federal agencies to buy products that have a 60 per cent or higher threshold of components made in America
He also slipped up in the end of his speech by saying, ‘Let me close with this: Back in 2009, during the so-called Great Recession, the President asked me to be in charge of managing that piece, then President Trump— excuse me, Freudian slip, that was the last president. He caused – anyway’
‘President Obama, I was vice president,’ he recovered. ‘The American auto industry, you remember, was on the rise.’
The event on Wednesday was set in a swing area of the swing state of Pennsylvania where Mack Trucks are manufactured as he promoted new rules on the federal government spending more taxpayer dollars on ‘Buying American’ products and services.
He also said the rule would increase the threshold for something to be considered ‘Made in America.’
‘Today I’m directing the Budget Office to issue a rule to raise the amount of domestic content required to be considered made in America from 55 per cent to 75 per cent,’ he announced with the backdrop of two Mack trucks. ‘Substantially all is going to mean substantially all.’
‘And starting with critical products, instead of taking contractors at their word that they’ve hit the threshold, we’re going to start making them give us the details so that we can do more to support American manufacturing. We want to be the ones making the innovative parts of every product. The ones that will support more jobs and more small businesses,’ he said.
Biden toured the Mack Trucks Lehigh Valley manufacturing operations facility in Macungie, Pennsylvania on Wednesday – a swing part of a key swing state
In April, Biden opened a Made in America Office, which proposes ideas on helping agencies use taxpayer dollars to support this new ‘Buy American’ initiative.
That office’s new rule proposal would increase the threshold of what qualifies as a ‘Made in America’ product when taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Currently, products qualify when 55 per cent of their parts were manufactured in the U.S. The new rule immediately raises that threshold to 60 per cent with a phased increase to 75 per cent by the end of the decade.
A fact sheet on the rules says ‘[i]f adopted, this change would create more opportunities for small- and medium-sized manufacturers and their employees, including small and disadvantaged enterprises, from all parts of the country.’
‘To support this work,’ it adds, ‘the Small Business Administration has created a new manufacturing office in its federal contracting division.’
There are concerns that these measures could end up increasing inflation in the future if some companies need to boost their prices to meet the new ‘Made in America’ thresholds.
An administration official told reporters on background call they have not done a macroeconomic analysis of the effects of this rule, but expect the potential negative economic effects are ‘unlikely to be very large.’
‘At his first Cabinet meeting, the president also directed every member of the cabinet to take a hard look at their agency’s spending and make sure it follows the administration-wide Buy American commitment,’ one of the two officials on the call said.
This rule would only look to make sure that federal spending (read: things bought with taxpayer dollars) would meet that newly raised threshold, and would not affect the private sector.
Two administration officials on the call also claim that the rule is vital to increasing transparency and accountability to ‘ensuring the future of America is made in all of America by all of America’s workers.’
‘We know that the records show that right now, for instance, more than 96 per cent of purchases recorded so far this year are recorded as being manufactured in America,’ a Biden official said. ‘What we know is that contractors certify that they have hit the current threshold.’
‘So part of what we’re doing is trying to go that extra mile to find out how much American content is in the particular critical goods that we’re buying. And to use that to determine if we’re getting enough data to expand that requirement,’ the added.
The rule is the latest proposal to try and boost American manufacturing.