Did the president follow-through on his manufacturing proposals in last year's 'State of the Union?'

Posted by scapozzola on 02/12/2013

President Obama's 2012 'State of the Union' address was widely praised in domestic manufacturing circles for its strong rhetorical commitment to "Made in America."

The question, though, is whether the president followed through on the initiatives he proposed.

In a Washington Post analysis yesterday, Glenn Kessler parsed last year's speech and then tracked the results.

Let's take a look at the various manufacturing-specific initiatives.  From Kessler's analysis:

1. Remove tax breaks that encourage outsourcing.  Kessler says, "No progress has been made on reforming the tax code...there is little enthusiasm in Congress."

2. Double U.S. exports in five years.  Exports are not increasing fast enough to meet this goal.  But as Kessler astutely observes, the bigger problem is that imports continue to outpace exports.  He explains that "just counting exports — rather than a gain in net exports — does not tell you much."  In fact, the annual U.S. goods deficit with China has exploded in recent years, reaching a new record in 2012 of $315 billion.  And so, while exports may increase, imports are increasing at a much greater rate, which leads to continuing problems for U.S. manufacturers trying to compete globally.

3. Create a Trade Enforcement Unit.  YES.  Congrats to President Obama for launching a Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) charged with investigating unfair trading practices on the part of countries like China.

4. Train 2 million Americans for the the 21st Century workplace.  Kessler says that the president has called for funding, but the plan has "gone nowhere."

5. Give manufacturers incentives to eliminate energy waste.  Kessler reports that the idea "went nowhere in Congress, and no bill was passed."

To the president's real credit, though, he followed through on one major commitment: In the 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama promised to continue to bring trade cases against China, explaining, "It's not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they're heavily subsidized."  The president subsequently filed a trade case with the World Trade Organization regarding China’s auto and auto parts subsidies.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) was one of a number of groups actively urging action on China's auto parts subsidies.  For eight months, AAM helped to build a compelling case on the merits of trade enforcement on Chinese auto parts and automobiles.

AAM congratulated the president for his bold action and continues to encourage similar trade enforcement measures.

Will President Obama detail any new pro-manufacturing initiatives during this year's speech? Will he reiterate older ones? We will be following along via Twitter this evening, as will AAM President Scott Paul. Be sure to watch our Twitter handles for instant analysis.






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