ABC News broke the story recently that the US Olympic teams uniforms for the 2012 London Olympic Games were made in China. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker John Boehner were quick to pounce. I am so upset. I think the Olympic Committee should be ashamed, Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.
Speaker Boehner, meanwhile, said of the US Olympic Committee: Youd think theyd know better. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference that shes proud of the nations Olympic athletes, but they should be wearing uniforms that are made in America.
Well, Speaker Boehner, and Democratic Leaders Reid and Pelosi, you should know better. Congress is in charge and should take immediate action.
The US Olympic Committee is a federally chartered non-profit corporation. Congress charters the USOC and Congress can amend the charter in five minutes to require that all USOC uniforms and licensed souvenirs are Made in the United States.
This is a simple solution that Congress controls. I testified before the USOC in 2001 in Utah when Mitt Romney chaired it, and asked the same questions then as I do now: why not make American Olympic products in the United States? After hearing my testimony, Mr. Romney continued the US Olympic Committees policy of going with the highest bidder, offshore.
The USOC does not receive money from Congress, but it does receive the very valuable, exclusive rights to license US Olympic advertising and souvenir rights. Ralph Lauren bought the right to clothe the US Olympic team for $10 million. BMW, the Bavarian Motor Works, not exactly an American car company, bought the rights to the official car of the US Olympic team.
The same controversy erupted in 2008 when Reuters reported that Chinese tailors had a hand in Ralph Laurens U.S. uniforms for the Beijing Olympics. Unsurprisingly, the same discussion over American manufacturing and lack of patriotism ensued.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said that while millions of Americans are unemployed, there is no reason why US Olympic uniforms are not being manufactured in the US. This action on the part of the US Olympic Committee is symbolic of a disastrous trade policy which has cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and must be changed.
President Obamas comment that it can wait until the next Olympics is too timid a response. Hickey Freeman of Rochester, N.Y., American Apparel in Los Angeles, American Giant in San Francisco, Loggerhead in Greenville, S.C., and Liscaro Scarves of Ft. Worth, Texas, have all confirmed that they can produce Olympic clothing within five to ten days.
Congress, the ball is in your court. Instead of voting 33 times against Obamacare, Speaker Boehner, I urge you to introduce and pass legislation that requires the US Olympic Committee to buy American-made clothing and souvenirs. I would like to have the list of those members of Congress who would oppose it.
While 12.7 million Americans are unemployed, Sen. Harry Reid recently had the time to call for a probe of the scoring of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley boxing title fight. Sen. Reid, apparently you have the time to introduce legislation in the Senate that will create jobs in the United States making Olympic gear. Thank goodness the US Olympic Team will perform more effectively than Congress.
Joel Joseph is chairman of the Made in the USA Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting American-made products. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone 310 MADE-USA
From The Progressive Populist, August 15, 2012
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