Shouldn’t Team USA be wearing uniforms Made in the USA?

By now you’ve heard this isn’t the case. Instead, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC)—made up of lawyers, bankers, and other executives—outsourced the uniforms Team America will be wearing in the opening ceremony for the 2012 games in London.

The U.S. Olympic Committee’s use of Chinese-made apparel is particularly egregious due to the ongoing and unfair competition that China poses to American manufacturers.

At a time when so many good jobs have disappeared overseas, the news that Team America is being forced to wear uniforms made in China should outrage every Ohioan.

When it comes to cheating trade laws, China would get the gold medal. It’s unconscionable that the U.S. Olympic Committee would hand over the production of the uniforms displayed by our athletes to a country that flouts international trade laws, manipulates its currency, and cheats on trade.

It makes no sense that an American organization would place a Chinese-made beret on the heads of our best athletes when we have capacity to make high-end apparel right here at home.

All American Clothing in Darke County is a great example of a company that prides itself on its “USA-made” label. In 2002, Lawson Nicol found out that his previous employer was outsourcing some of its work to Mexico. With this news, he founded All American Clothing Company. And, since its inception, his company has seen growth every year. The company is planning to expand, creating more jobs in Southwest Ohio.

All American Clothing is part of a strong American textiles and apparel industry. According to the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), the U.S. is the third largest exporter of textile products in the world, employing more than 500,000 workers in 2011.

Which team is the USOC rooting for? We need answers.

That’s why I wrote a letter to the USOC asking it to meet with American manufacturers and workers for the future USOC uniform demands, and offering to connect USOC with these manufacturers and unions.

And I was pleased to learn that the USOC pledged that the 2014 Olympic uniforms will be made in America.

While this is good news, there’s more that we can do now to boost American manufacturing.

We also need to crack down on unfair foreign trade that puts Chinese companies at an advantage over American manufacturers. Since Congress passed a trade deal with China more than ten years ago, we’ve seen the elimination of more than five million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010.

We can--and we must--stop this trend.

That’s why I’ve introduced the Wear American Act of 2012. This “Buy America” plan would ensure that the federal government purchases apparel that is 100-percent American made.

That means all textiles and apparel purchased with U.S. tax dollars will go to U.S. businesses and communities – not China.

This isn’t rocket science. It just makes plain sense to put U.S. tax dollars back into the U.S. economy.

We must also level the playing field for American manufacturers facing unfair foreign competition. Because China manipulates its currency, its exports have a 25-40 percent price advantage over American-made products. Recently, the Senate passed a bill I authored, The Currency Exchange and Oversight Reform Act. This legislation represented the biggest bipartisan jobs bill—at no cost to U.S. taxpayers—that the Senate passed last year. The bill allows the U.S. government to stand up for American jobs when China cheats by manipulating its currency to give its exports an unfair advantage. It’s time for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the bill and for the President to sign it into law.

We should be in the business of creating policies that reward hardworking Americans, rather than supporting a tax code and trade policy that helps big companies send U.S. jobs overseas.

Right now, the stakes couldn’t be higher. We must do everything we can to support American workers.