Biden order promotes buying American — but will it save US businesses?

EXCLUSIVE: Biden officials believe they are 'taking a major step at building the backbone of the middle class and supporting union jobs'

Loading the player...

There is an economic hemorrhaging globally but particularly here in the United States of America. The recession is evident as COVID-19 continues to ravage the purse strings of U.S. businesses to the personal pocketbooks of American citizens.

But the Biden White House is working to stave off further hurt by focusing on homegrown manufactured products and the union workforce.  

“The future is Made in America” is a hallmark of President Joe Biden‘s cluster of executive orders to prevent businesses from closing in this season of the pandemic. According to White House officials, Build Back Better begins at home. 

U.S. President Joe Biden signs an executive order during an event on economic crisis in the State Dining Room of the White House January 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Biden administration officials believe they are “taking a major step at building the backbone of the middle class and supporting union jobs” with executive orders that support manufacturing and union jobs.

Read More: Rep. Val Demings: Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ plan will end systemic racism

The federal government awards about $600 billion in contracts in federal spending with preferences leaning toward American firms. That American preference has not always been the standard in federal contracting.  

Ben Waxman, co-owner of the textile company American Roots is in favor of these Biden orders. His company is 100 percent American owned and union staffed.

“From a bottom-line standpoint, I think the sky is the limit. We’re actively bidding now on government contracts within the VA, within the DOJ, within the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, where these agencies need our products,” Waxman tells theGrio.

“And now they have a way to do it because the president has said, make this a priority … we view the next four years as the opportunity to add a second shift, which is a big deal for us. So we would go from 80 employees to one hundred and sixty employees over the course of the next two years with a specific government focus on one of those shifts.”

Employee of American Roots. (Photo: American Roots Website)

Texas, California and New York are the top three states with the largest numbers of manufacturing plants.  However, manufacturing is not just concentrated there. Waxman’s company is located in his hometown of Portland, Maine. 

In a Sunday evening call with the press, Biden administration officials said that as the federal government uses taxpayer dollars to purchase goods and services, the executive order seeks to do so in a way that increasingly uses American-made products and American manufactured goods. 

The effort begins with Americans buying American products — but it does not end there. Administration officials contend this is part of a “broader strategy to bolster our domestic industrial strength and manufacturing capacity and capture a global share in clean energy, electric vehicles and battery manufacturing where we know we are going to see significant increases in the global market. 

Read More: In first days, Biden flashes action as deep problems loom

The officials went on to say this “positions our industries better to capture export markets.” 

In 70s and 80s, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) created a commercial promoting citizens to buy American with the words in the song of the commercial: “look for the union label when buying a coat dress or blouse.”

In 2021, that same mindset is backed by President Biden and his Build Back Better effort to keep American money circulating in the country to keep people employed and businesses going. 

President Joe Biden spoke Friday on his administration’s response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also signed two executive orders. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

To further the president’s commitment to this strategy, the administration is appointing a new senior leader in the executive office of the president in charge of the government’s American policy approach. 

The question, however, remains if these executive orders will work?

Terrence Melvin, secretary-treasurer of New York State AFL-CIO, a federation of trade unions, believes Biden’s executive order is a positive step forward.

“When it comes to manufacturing, since 2001 we’ve lost like 2.6 million manufacturing jobs in this country. And I don’t think that anybody has really over the period of time taking a really concerted effort as President Biden is doing right now … to look at what is happening within our own country,” Melvin tells theGrio.

He adds, “I believe he’s forced to because of the pandemic that we’re in right now. And I think if we can get back to a more robust manufacturing sector in this country over the next few years, I think that will help us with our economy open up even more.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!

Loading the player...