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New website will allow public to track when government skirts ‘Buy American’ rule

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A new website allowing for public inspection of waivers for the “made in America rule” is as launched and may be in operation soon.

A campaign promise by President Joe Biden stated that government agencies will be more transparent about when and where they make requests to buy products that are not made in the United States. Now, the administration is attempting to make good on that promise, Axios reported.

Traditionally, the American government and its agencies have had the ability to waive the made in America requirement for products or materials that are not deemed critical to the mission and goal of that agency, or if the product was not available domestically at a reasonable cost, or if buying American was “not in the public interest” for other reasons.

Biden ran on a promise of supporting American blue-collar workers via strengthening the industrial base and other policies that sold well to the industrial working class. This was essential in the key “rust belt” of the northeast in particular, which had traditionally been a Democratic stronghold until the upset in 2016, where Donald Trump was able to skewer Hillary Clinton over perceived indifference to the plight of blue-collar workers in the region, which had a decisive impact on Trump’s victory that year.

Learning from that lesson, Biden knew he had to at least attempt to meaningfully address the concerns of these voters, and in late July the White House issued an official statement declaring the “buy American” rule, directing agencies to use fewer waivers for buying foreign goods. Now, as a follow-up, a government website, MadeinAmerica.gov has been set up. The purpose of this website was to allow visitors to hold the government accountable by following, in real-time, the waiver requests by agencies to buy foreign products or materials, though that feature has yet to be implemented as of this writing.

With today’s announcement, we’re taking another step forward to deliver on President Biden’s commitment to use that power to help America’s businesses compete in strategic industries and help ensure America’s workers thrive,” said Celeste Drake, director of the Made in America Office, within the Office of Management and Budget.

Government purchases aren’t just a matter of policy, they have a massive impact on the economy. The American federal government in its totality is the largest buyer of consumer goods in the world, spending almost $600 billion per year on various goods, materials, and services.

The timing is also important to the Biden administration, given that it needs to start finding a way to generate support, and soon. Polls repeatedly indicate cratering support for the president and even worse numbers for Vice President Kamala Harris. Finding a way to regenerate support amongst the working class is critical for Democrats in the face of a potentially severe reckoning in the mid-term elections.

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