Will the President Tackle Jobs in his State of the Union Speech?
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Urges President Obama to Take Aggressive Action to Create 1 Million New Manufacturing Jobs
WASHINGTON, DC. "Made in America." It’s what voters want. It’s what the fall presidential election hinged on. It’s the key to rebuilding U.S. manufacturing. But will President Obama go all-in during his State of the Union speech on Feb. 12?
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) brought “Made in America” to the policy world starting in 2007, made manufacturing a key part of the 2012 State of the Union speech, and drove our trade imbalance with China to the center of the recent presidential campaign. Now, AAM President Scott Paul is urging the president to go full-throttle in his commitment to create 1 million new manufacturing jobs in his second term.
In a letter to the president, Paul called for action to boost manufacturing jobs by taking on China’s egregious violations of international trade law, and adopting a cohesive manufacturing strategy to bolster the nation’s key industrial sectors.
“We encourage you to support a number of important policy measures — outlined below — intended to promote manufacturing jobs growth, an expanded middle-class, and a favorable business environment in which to manufacture,” Paul wrote. “A broad manufacturing policy is essential. Our workers and businesses compete with China and other nations that are aggressively seeking to expand their own industrial capabilities, all too often at the expense of our own jobs and domestic production, and all too often through unfair trade practices.”
In a recent post-election media analysis, AAM found that the two major presidential campaigns focused heavily on manufacturing, outsourcing, and trade with China in their political advertising. In fact, the two campaigns made more than 975,000 mentions of such key issues as jobs, outsourcing, and trade in their TV advertising.
In an inauguration day editorial in USA Today, Paul asked the president to heed the message of voters and go to the mat for the nation’s manufacturers. Paul also listed several steps necessary to meet the president’s campaign pledge of one million new manufacturing jobs by the end of his second term.
In his letter to President Obama, Paul praised the Administration’s recent initiatives aimed at strengthening America’s manufacturing base, including the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, Skills for the Future, his insourcing initiative, and the creation of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center.
However, Paul pointed out that much more needs to be done. Calling for both new legislation and executive action, his letter’s 13-point plan urges key efforts, including:
ENFORCING OUR TRADE AGREEMENTS
• Keep our trade laws strong and strictly enforced. Refocus the trade agenda by giving American businesses new tools to counter currency manipulation, industrial subsidies, intellectual property theft, and barriers to market access by our trading partners.
• Ensure that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership includes measures to prohibit trade-distorting currency manipulation and the market-distorting impacts of state-owned enterprises.
• Convene a multilateral meeting to address global imbalances and, in particular, China’s mercantilism. If China doesn't agree to participate, designate it a currency manipulator. China ships more than one-quarter of its exports to the U.S. and finances less than 10 percent of our public debt, so we have more leverage than some might suggest. As your Administration works to double American exports, ensure that trade deficit reduction receives a higher priority. Lowering the trade deficit and creating manufacturing jobs will have a positive impact on federal revenues and will reduce the federal budget deficit.
KEEPING IT AMERICAN-MADE
• Apply "Buy America" provisions to all federal procurement and to federal-aid infrastructure projects that benefit from Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars. Doing so will ensure that tax dollars are reinvested within our economy and that American jobs are created.
• Direct the Department of Defense to leverage existing procurement to contractors that commit to increasing their domestic content of our military equipment, technology, and supplies. This should commence with a top-to-bottom assessment of our defense industrial base to identify potential vulnerabilities or gaps where production of critical items and materials are at risk of no longer being sourced domestically.
FIXING OUR INFRASRUCTURE, SHORING UP SECURITY
• Reevaluate how America prepares for and responds to catastrophic events to ensure that our increasing reliance on the complex and vulnerable global supply chain does not put future recovery efforts at risk. Critical to this preparation and capacity development is a robust, diverse, and resilient domestic manufacturing sector, along with pro-manufacturing policies, such as Buy America preferences.
• Work with Congressional leaders to identify financing for, and adopt, a large-scale, long-term infrastructure program of at least $500 billion over six years to follow on the more modest MAP-21 surface transportation reauthorization law enacted last year.
• Leverage capital from private investors for large-scale transportation and energy projects by using creative investment measures, such as the establishment of a national infrastructure bank that delivers low-cost loans or loan guarantees and places an emphasis on using domestic content to the maximum extent possible.
PLANNING FOR SMART ENERGY
• Condition new federal loan guarantees for construction of energy projects on the utilization of domestic supply chains. Approve additional applications for renewable and traditional energy projects, contingent on the use of American-made materials in construction.
• Promote energy conservation and security by promoting the retrofitting of public buildings with American-made materials and manufactured goods and by supporting private sector efforts to increase industrial energy efficiency.
PROMOTING DOMESTIC MANUFACTURING
• Reshape the tax code in a revenue-neutral way to provide incentives for job creation and inward investment. Research and development tax credits should help firms that not only innovate in America, but also make their products here. We should lower tax rates for manufacturing activity in America and expand up-front expensing for plant and equipment purchases.
• Devote additional educational investment to rebuilding our vocational and technical skills programs, which would address potential shortages of qualified workers needed in the manufacturing sector.
Paul said that AAM stands ready to work with the president, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and willing leaders in the business and labor communities on these important issues.