- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2003

Buy American

I have great respect for Jack Kemp, and I have voted for every free-trade agreement since I was elected to Congress in 1992. But I have to defend my good friend, Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, in support of the buy-American provisions included in the House Defense Authorization Bill (“The best defense,” Commentary, Thursday). As Mr. Kemp acknowledges, national defense should be an exemption to the philosophy of free trade, which is even recognized by Adam Smith. Perhaps Mr. Kemp is not fully aware of what is happening to the defense industrial base of our nation. It’s not just the example of the Swiss-made parts for the Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). Second- and third-level suppliers to large defense contractors are having their work transferred abroad, in part because of a lack of oversight by the Pentagon in the name of “best value.”

Ingersoll Milling Machines of Rockford, Ill., one of the last great manufacturers of large machine tools, went bankrupt this year, in part, because some large U.S. defense contractors bought foreign, as opposed to domestic, machine tools to start work on the Joint Strike Fighter. Now, the United States has only one machine-tool manufacturer left in the nation that can make machines to put composite materials on stealth aircraft — Cincinnati Machine — and that company is teetering on the edge with fewer than 400 employees left. To imply that American companies make “inferior” equipment for our men and women in uniform to justify buying abroad is an insult to the workers at such well-regarded companies as Ingersoll and Cincinnati Machine.

The manufacturing sector is much different than in 2001. Even if the 2 percent foreign content figure is true, why does the Pentagon resist raising the U.S. content requirement in defense purchases from 50 percent to 65 percent? If they already are at 98 percent U.S. content, the Defense Department shouldn’t have any problem complying.

It’s time to recognize the crisis in manufacturing in this country and do all in our power to help resuscitate this vital sector of our economy. Yes, government procurement alone will not solve the problems in manufacturing, but it is one part of an overall puzzle in addressing this crisis.



House Committee on Small Business


Jack Kemp’s commentary against protectionism has a big hole in it. He seems to paint all traders as fair traders, which is as bad as Rep. Duncan Hunter’s protectionist argument that free trade is somehow a threat to our economy and national defense. Free trade is no more inherently good than protectionism is inherently bad. What is needed is a government that can quickly and clearly distinguish between individual companies and nations that hurt us with trade, and individual companies and nations that help us with their trade. Winston Churchill wisely said words to the effect that Britain has no permanent friends, only permanent interests.

Nations and companies that hurt us, or try to hurt us, with their trade policies should be hit hard and quickly. The Swiss company that refused to supply parts for our JDAM missiles in the Iraq war needs to be singled out for serious retribution. It is wholly inappropriate to punish all suppliers around the world by putting inappropriate “buy-America” provisions into our defense procurement laws.

Collective punishment and collective free passes have never been fair, intelligent or effective, no matter where they are applied. A cardinal rule of good government and productive policy, is never to punish or reward whole groups, but rather to narrowly focus on individual conduct. It is a symptom of laziness and ineptitude, often found in totalitarian mind-sets, to fail to finely distinguish between friends and foes. Both Mr. Kemp in his article and Mr. Hunter in his “buy American” rider to the defense bill fail to make these kinds of careful distinctions; hopefully, our president will do better.


Executive director

Leadership Forum Coalition


Every state’s stake in energy

Phil Kent’s Tuesday Op-Ed column, “Time for a new plan,” offers everything but. Rather, Mr. Kent’s proposal merely preserves today’s monopoly power markets and inefficient wholesale transmission system.

As Congress continues to debate the National Energy Policy Act, proponents of the status quo want federal lawmakers to believe two myths:

1. That the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) push toward more efficient power-grid rules are akin to the failed California energy policies; and

2. That big government developed the standard market design in “virtual secrecy.”

Congress, please consider the following facts:

Thirty-four states, representing 60 percent of our country’s population, want to deliver the benefits of dynamic wholesale power markets to the consumers in their states. Many states have implemented wholesale market reforms that already have produced significant cost savings for both wholesale and retail customers. Reforms in wholesale markets will continue to bring benefits to families and businesses across the nation. Well-designed and effectively monitored markets are in the best interest of all utility customers.

FERC’s revised transmission policy, set forth in its April white paper, advocates a path forward to expand the efficiencies of the transmission grid — an area of focus California neglected for many years and that partly contributed to its energy downfall. While chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, FERC Chairman Pat Wood learned the lessons California had to offer and avoided them successfully. Certainly, he hasn’t forgotten them now.

FERC could not have been more open in forming its vision. The commissioners developed this plan through more than 125 meetings with stakeholders in every region of the country. During the past year, they have engaged in an unprecedented and ongoing dialogue with state regulators, energy stakeholders and consumers. Most important, FERC listened.

Now, the current federal energy bill would delay until at least mid-2005 improvements to the nation’s energy infrastructure. At stake are flexible tools that would provide numerous benefits to help enhance the reliable delivery of power to homes and businesses; monitor market and industry behaviors to deter and remedy manipulative practices; ensure adequate generation to meet demand; create standardized market rules for large regions of the nation; provide transmission and power at fair and reasonable rates; foster innovative technology to empower consumers; create incentives for private-sector investment in new sources of supply; and encourage the development of cleaner power technologies. A new regional transmission organization would make sure electricity flows freely across state borders to give consumers competitive prices, increased choices and improved services and reliability.

We encourage Congress to weigh these facts and to consider carefully the perspectives of public utility commissioners and industry stakeholders in their home states. Allow federal and state regulators and industry stakeholders the opportunity to continue working to create a healthy electric industry that will power homes and businesses at more efficient prices.

To Congress, we say: Look past the message of Mr. Kent, who propounds the best interest of our “pocketbooks,” and decipher the cloaked agenda of those with deep pockets.



New Jersey Board of Public Utilities



Public Utility Commission of Texas

‘Family’ housing rule

It’s unfortunate that the radical right, as personified by the Family Foundation and Delegate Richard H. Black, Sterling Republican, can’t tell the truth about the “family rule” recently rescinded by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (“Conservatives to target relaxed mortgage rules,” Metropolitan, Thursday).

This change was the only fair thing to do for the many thousands of Virginians who do not fit the Family Foundation’s narrow definition of the proper family unit. The fact is that all Virginia taxpayers and residents who are otherwise qualified should have a right to take advantage of this program, regardless of their marital status. How dare Mr. Black characterize equal access for all as “subsidizing sodomy and adultery” and “supporting a radical homosexual agenda.” Such outrageous comments should disqualify him from holding public office, and I can assure him that these comments will only galvanize all those who believe in legal equality and fairness to oppose any effort by Mr. Black and others to reverse the board’s decision.


Vice president

Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia


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