Washington Watch

Dingell’s MEANS Act is corporate welfare at the global scale

Bill claims to promote domestic manufacturing. But nearly 70 countries would qualify for aid

A House bill presented as an effort to promote domestic manufacturing would expand international corporate welfare to a large list of allies.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, introduced the Manufacturing Economy and National Security Act in the House Feb. 2. The bill would establish an office within the Department of Commerce called the Office of Manufacturing Security and Resilience. Its task would be to manage and regulate supply chain issues and promote domestic manufacturing.

The bill, formerly known as H.R. 774 but informally as the MEANS Act, promises $35 billion “to support domestic manufacturing of critical goods and services, industrial equipment, and manufacturing technology.” It would give financial incentives to select manufacturing businesses, which would in theory increase national security, employment opportunities, and American living standards.

Dingell’s single-subject statement says the bill’s purpose is “promoting U.S. manufacturing by building resilient supply chains.”

Read it for yourself: House Resolution 774, the MEANS Act

But the text of the bill reveals that “domestic manufacturing” does not necessarily mean American manufacturing.

“Domestic” can mean “international” as well, so long as the business occurs “in countries that are allies or key international partners of the United States.”

An “allied country” means any member of NATO and any country “designated as a non-NATO ally.” The word “allies” comes up six times in the bill. “International” is mentioned 12 times.

Added together, nearly 70 countries would be eligible for the label of “domestic” manufacturing. These include Mexico, Ecuador, Iceland, and Brazil. In essence, the bill would make corporate welfare global in scope.

The Office of Manufacturing Security and Resilience would be “authorized to prescribe ... regulations governing the forms and procedures ... to be used in connection with such loans.” The office would require “that the eligible entity agrees ... to assist the United States in preparing for and responding to a covered emergency.”

The MEANS Act was introduced as part of a package of bills with nearly identical missions, each some new office or agency and millions to billions of dollars in funding.

In a February press release, Dingell said, “This comprehensive set of legislation will bring our supply chains home and prevent future vulnerabilities, reducing our dependence on our foreign competitors, investing in American jobs, and strengthening our national and economic security.”

But the only tangible result Americans could expect from the passage of the MEANS Act is yet another administrative agency. This agency would further globalize American industry, promote increased spending, and strengthen the ties between business and government.

The MEANS Act is not about boosting domestic manufacturing and the supply chain. It’s about boosting corporate welfare.

The bill is currently being considered in the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce, which is part of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Therese Boudreaux is a Michigan Capitol Confidential intern.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.