A congressman from New York hopes to bolster pride in America, and boost American manufacturers, by pushing legislation that would require gift shops throughout the National Park System to carry items made in America.
“When I walk into one of the gift shops at our monuments or national parks, it’s deeply deflating that nearly every item – from American flag mugs to Theodore Roosevelt teddy bears – comes with a ‘Made in China’ sticker,” said Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York. “If we want American manufacturing to thrive again, then we need to show that we believe in it. That’s why I’m introducing legislation to bring ‘Made in the USA’ back to our nation’s proudest sites.”
The legislation, the American Parks, American Products Act, was introduced last Thursday. It would require that all items sold in gift shops, and visitors centers within the National Park System be made in America.
According to the congressman's staff, a large number of items sold at national parks and monuments are produced abroad, many in China. The current U.S. trade deficit with China, his staff noted, is at a record high with a $273 billion trade gap between what the U.S. imports versus exports from China. The overall U.S. trade deficit is $497 billion and that was projected to grow in 2011.
According to ABC News, “Economists say that if every one of us spent an extra $3.33 on U.S.-made goods every year, it would create nearly 10,000 new jobs in this country.”
Congressman Israel's staff says the Park Service administers more than 500 concessions contracts, with a gross annual valuation of more than $1 billion.
However, his staff could not say Friday what it would cost park concessionaires and cooperating associations to switch from items made abroad to those made in America.
Back on Long Island in the congressman's district, union leaders praised the legislation.
“The Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, would like to thank Congressman Israel for his commitment to promoting American made products. His efforts will support the livelihoods of millions of hard-working Americans, including union members, who are capable of building, maintaining and servicing the American economy," said Roger Clayman, the executive director of the Long Island Federation of Labor. "There are 25 million people in our country who need full-time work, and there is plenty of work to be done."
New York, alone, has 22 units of the National Park System that were visited by more than 17.5 million people in 2010, according to the Democrat's staff.
In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the “Buy American Act” into law, his staff noted. The legislation created a preference for American goods in government purchases. The American Parks, American Products Act follows the precedent set by FDR of encouraging domestic manufacturing and job creation through government purchases, it added.