9/11 Commemorative Bracelets from China-- just part of the outsourcing trend.
Bloomberg News correspondent Kathleen Miller reports that for the 10th anniversary of Septemeber 11, U.S. Transportation Security Administration officials bought 70,000 commemorative bracelets.
Unfortunately, the bracelets were made in China.
Miller says the wristbands were among as much as $84 billion in annual U.S. contracts spent on foreign made goods, that were mostly purchased due to "exemptions from legislation designed to restrict such deals." Miller cites a wide range of other examples of foreign-made purchases, including purchases of "rocket launchers and machine guns from Bulgaria, as well as generic cholesterol medication for U.S. veterans that came from plants in India."
The problem is that the Buy American Act from 1933 and similar measures have become "riddled with loopholes":
In the past five years, federal agencies awarded contracts valued at more than $500 billion for foreign goods and services, peaking at $111 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government...The U.S. Department of Defense (USBODEFN) was responsible for more than 90 percent, or $76.5 billion of spending last year on non- American goods and services, according to the data.
Miller quotes Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), regarding Buy America policy. Paul describes it as “one of the more effective ways to leverage tax dollars to enhance domestic employment":
He noted the U.S. has begun making streetcars again, after domestic preference policies helped United Streetcar, an Oregon manufacturer that began operations in 2005, win work in Portland, Oregon, and Tucson, Arizona.
There are still “glaring” loopholes, Paul said in an interview. They include exceptions that allow the Pentagon to buy foreign-made goods for use abroad even as companies such as New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. try to win military business for their U.S.-made products, he said.
To rectify this continued outsourcing of federal purchases, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) recently introduced legislation to ensure that taxpayers dollars are used to buy American-made goods. Their Invest in American Jobs Act would give preference to American-made steel, iron, and manufactured goods used to construct projects financed by taxpayers.
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