As some leading lawmakers in Washington, D.C., explore potential changes to the federal tax code, one idea in particular — the creation of a border adjustment tax — is likely to get more and more attention from many Midwest-based firms.
Buy America requirements, provisions added to federal legislation to require domestic content when purchasing materials for government-supported projects, are showing up more regularly in major bills passed by the U.S. Congress.
The most recent example of this trend came in September, when the U.S. Senate approved its version of the comprehensive Water Resources Development Act. The legislation would mandate that only American-made iron and steel products be used in drinking water infrastructure projects that receive funding from a federal revolving-loan program.
For supporters such as U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the rationale for these domestic content requirements is this: If taxpayer dollars are going to the projects, why not make sure that the money goes to American workers, foundries and mills?
But in seeking ways to protect and expand domestic job opportunities, Buy America (or “Buy American”) can complicate another part of the U.S. economy — the integrated supply chains that have developed across the U.S. and Canadian borders. In this type of market, a product or piece of equipment may be ready for sale only after crisscrossing the border multiple times. Domestic content requirements, then, can disrupt the way some products are made.