New National Campaign, “Should Be Made in America,” Demands Accountability on U.S. Infrastructure Spending.

Mon, 03/26/2012

“Should Be Made in America”

California’s Made-in-China Bay Bridge Symbol of Failure;

Billboards and Legislation Will Drive Policy Changes to Reinvest Tax Dollars in American Workers and Manufacturing
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March 26, 2012.  A national Should Be Made in America campaign by the non-profit, non-partisan Alliance for America Manufacturing (AAM) kicks off today at the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, a massive construction project that was outsourced to China at the cost of thousands of American manufacturing jobs.

The Should Be Made in America campaign will feature outdoor and digital advertising as well as online activism to urge the use of American-made components for infrastructure projects financed with U.S. tax dollars.  The campaign launches with two large billboards stationed near the Bay Bridge that feature the flag of the People's Republic of China inscribed with “The Bay Bridge/100% Foreign Steel.  ShouldBeMadeInAmerica.com”

“Our campaign is designed to spark changes in federal, state, and local procurement policies. We are engaging the American public with real and practical ideas about how taxpayer money should be spent on rebuilding our nation,” said Scott Paul, AAM’s Executive Director. “The problems with the Bay Bridge project could have been avoided if California officials had made it in America. Instead, the project is costing American jobs, undermining California's environmental goals, and facing numerous delays.”

The Bay Bridge project was awarded to a state-owned Chinese firm by California officials, allegedly to save taxpayer money.  AAM, along with groups like the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA), have made clear that U.S. manufacturers and their workers stood ready to build the bridge. Although the federal government has "Buy America" preferences for American-made materials, the state of California avoided these requirements by financing the project with state funds.

"It's time for our politicians to believe in American workers," said Paul.  “No more Bay Bridge fiascos.”  

Paul explains that the U.S. needs to repair trillions of dollars in crumbling infrastructure over the next decade, including nearly $500 billion worth in California alone.  The Should Be Made in America campaign will argue that the most effective boost to the U.S. economy would be to ensure that U.S. firms are given the work whenever permissible under existing trade obligations.

Momentum is already building for the Should Be Made in America campaign, and legislation to enhance Buy America preferences at both the federal and state levels is garnering broad support.  

Late last year, U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced the Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011 (H.R.3533) to strengthen Buy America requirements for transportation and infrastructure projects.  The bipartisan bill currently has 41 co-sponsors, including six from California (with three Members representing the Bay Area: George Miller, John Garamendi, and Pete Stark).  And last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted an amendment to improve the effectiveness of existing Buy America preferences for transportation projects while also closing loopholes.

Twenty U.S. states are currently considering, or have recently passed, legislation to provide preferences for American steel and manufactured goods in state-level procurement. California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation last year to permit local transit agencies to require 100 percent domestic content in purchases of transit equipment. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's (D-NY) administration has asked construction firms bidding on the new Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River to adhere to Buy America requirements.

In a 180-degree reversal of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to outsource Bay Bridge steel to China, Mitt Romney, the current GOP presidential frontrunner, has said he would bar procurement from China unless it provides reciprocal access for American products.

Said Paul, “We are not helpless. Buy America is popular with voters, and it is longstanding and sound policy for the federal government and some states. At a time when unemployment is still over 8 percent, we can't afford to ship more manufacturing jobs to China at taxpayer expense. We must rebuild our nation's crumbling infrastructure. We must build high speed rail. But we must make it in America.”

Paul added, “Any of our leaders willing to outsource jobs to China could find one of our billboards next to their shiny new project. We hope there isn't a great demand for our billboards, but we are prepared to put them up wherever necessary.”

To learn more about Buy America preferences and U.S. manufacturing, visit americanmanufacturing.org or the new campaign site shouldbemadeinamerica.com.

@KeepitMadeinUSA on Twitter

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