The costs and benefits of maintaining the Buy American Act
Hirschman, Keith A.
David R. Henderson
Mark W. Stone
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This thesis explores the costs and benefits of the Buy American Act (BAA). The BAA requires a domestic preference for all Federal Government purchases. The thesis uses accepted economic analysis on the gains from international trade to show that the costs of maintaining such protectionist legislation are potentially high relative to the uncertain benefits of maintaining excess industrial surge capacity. Moreover, surge capacity did not appear to be an issue in the debate over passage of the BAA in 1933. Passed at the trough of the depression, the Act appears to have been motivated by the mistaken belief that it would on net save U.S. jobs. In light of the declining real procurement budget for the Department of Defense, a relaxation of the BAA seems called for. This thesis concludes by recommending that the scope of the Buy American Act be narrowed
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