Germ of an Idea
After seeing a report on port security, it seems to me there's a way to conflate keeping our ports safe, buying American, or raising revenue from big business.
We all know that port security is woefully incomplete. A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security shows much of the (paltry) money supplied in grants for protecting ports is squandered on low priority problems rather than actual vulnerabilities. This was at least a minor issue during the election campaign. And both candidates agreed that nuclear proliferation was the biggest issue facing American security; basically, the prospect of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons. When the port and container security issue was brought up in the debates, Bush complained, "I don't know how we're going to pay for all this... there's a huge tax gap."
This was an opening that has not nearly been exploited enough. The President is unwilling to pay to protect America. Well, there are 2 solutions that don't raise taxes on ordinary Americans (not that it'd be a problem if they did; I believe my security is worth paying for):
1) Raise quotas and/or increase incentives for American manufacturers, so that we are less reliant on the nation's ports to deliver practically every good to market. This can be framed as a security issue. American manufacturing makes Americans safer. The National Association of Manufacturing could run with that one.
2) Add a "security tariff" to importers, specifically designed to pay for port security grants. This will increase competitiveness from stateside manufacturers, and give multinationals less incentive to purchase/manufacture everything from overseas.
These basically play out as corporate taxes and protectionism, but tying them to national security is a way to get them sold to the public. The decline of the manufacturing base will eventually catch up with this country as it has with all consumer-based societies in history. Here's a way to stop the bleeding. Or, here's a way to strengthen ports without it being paid for by taxpayers.
I don't know, I'm working on it...