Who could oppose “Buy American” measures that appear to support American manufacturing and create jobs? On the surface, that’s what the All-American Flag Act seems to do. But on closer examination, such laws do not benefit “All Americans” but rather just a narrow group of producers.
A recent proposal from the House of Representatives would require the U.S. military to use only American flags manufactured in the United States instead of foreign-made flags. A more broad-based All-American Flag Act would impose similar requirements on all federal flag purchases.
According to the Flag Manufacturers Association of America, 95 percent of flags sold in the United States in 2012 were made in the U.S. Thus, the All-American Flag Act is largely symbolic. However, other “Buy American” requirements, such as those in President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, actually force the government to waste tax dollars while inviting retaliation from other countries.
A better policy is for the government to buy the best products at the best prices, wherever they’re made. A growing economy, not growing government regulations, will ultimately be the most beneficial to U.S. manufacturers of flags and other products—and a genuine reflection of American patriotism.
Petra Niedermayerova is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.