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September 27, 2017

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US uniform row sparks bipartisan anger

UNITED NATIONS -- With the London Summer Olympics fast approaching, the eyes of America are on Team USA, or more precisely on the manufacturer's labels on their uniforms. What looked like a proud sporting moment when designer Ralph Lauren unveiled a really classy-looking blue navy blazer, white pants and slightly improbable beret, became a political "gotcha moment" as the ubiquitous "Made in China" label was part of the kit. Whoops!

Politicians and pundits alike were energized as fast as a July thunderstorm. And rightly so — to a point. That the Team USA dress uniforms were not made in the USA comes as a shock but hardly a surprise. Have you been to a clothing or shoe store recently?

While the Ralph Lauren manufacturer portrays a classic and classy "American look," the actual product is made in China. Surprise? So are so many men's and women's clothes, be they Brooks Brothers polo or dress shirts, or garments at the GAP or Crew.

The real outrage was not so much that the product comes from a low wage, non-union manufacturing base in mainland China, but that in these times of recession, 8-percent plus unemployment, and a continuing hemorrhage of American jobs, that the outfits can and should be produced here in the USA.

The disputed uniforms are the responsibility of the Colorado-based U.S. Olympic Committee, a private organization without taxpayer funding. U.S. Olympic Committee fundraising often includes various promotional items, umbrellas, T- shirts, kit bags etc., which are ... made in China.

Many politicians drew the line in the sand on nationalistic grounds as well as the fact that China has siphoned off so many American manufacturing jobs.

Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, in a pique of disgust said "I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them." Almost sounds like Mao's Cultural Revolution!

Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said sarcastically of the Olympic Committee, "You'd think they would know better."

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