'Buy American' could be in stimulus

A steel worker

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: It's not just members of Congress who are maneuvering their way around the stimulus bill. The private sector is doing it too. And they actually have a lot more to gain -- from cement to steel to catfishing, 2009 could be a lucrative year for American businesses, both large and small, if they can get a piece of the action. Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson has that part of the story.


Jeremy Hobson: Christmas may be over, but the biggest gift is yet to come in Washington.

Steve Ellis: If you're a lobbyist in this town and you're not trying to get part of a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus for your client, well shame on you.

Steve Ellis is with the government watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Ellis: That's a huge chunk of change, and considering very little of it has been defined as to what exactly it's going to, to date, that's attracting a lot of attention.

Ellis says lobbyists from all sorts of industries are descending on the nation's capital, selling their services to members of Congress and the Obama transition team. Business Consultant Michael Locker says the steel industry will be a big winner since the stimulus package is likely to focus on infrastructure.

Michael Locker: Well, cement will gain a great deal, as you might imagine. Construction firms, engineering firms, but steel being used in those types of construction projects, yes, will be a major beneficiary.

Some in the steel industry are even pushing for a "buy American" clause to be inserted into the bill, to help domestic companies. Steel industry analyst Charles Bradford calls that hypocritical because American companies complain about protectionist policies abroad. And, Bradford says...

Charles Bradford: The same companies that have been asking for protection are the ones who just a few months ago were bragging about how profitable they were and were showing figures that they were twice as profitable as the average American company.

Still, he says, a "buy American" clause could well make it into the final bill, pleasing labor unions that worked hard for Democrats during the election.

In New York, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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