Manufacturing Strategy Idea Gets A Boost

Dave Johnson

Over the weekend I wrote about Speaker Pelosi talking at Netroots Nation about the upcoming “Making It In America” initiative that the Congress will be taking up after the summer recess. CNN’s Money.com describes what’s coming,

Democrats kicked off the campaign last week by passing the “U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act” — a mundane vehicle for tariff breaks that the party spiffed up with a new name to fit the messaging push. On tap for this week: “The National Manufacturing Strategy Act,” directing the President to create a manufacturing strategy every four years; “The End the Trade Deficit Act,” creating a commission to develop strategies to reduce the trade deficit; and “The Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act,” requiring the Commerce Secretary to advise clean-energy outfits.

A key part of the manufacturing initiative is to require the administration to develop a national manufacturing strategy. H.R. 4692: the National Manufacturing Strategy Act of 2010 does the following:

Directs the President, every four years, to: (1) conduct a comprehensive analysis of the nation’s manufacturing sector; and (2) submit to Congress a National Manufacturing Strategy (Strategy). Requires the President, in developing each Strategy, to convene a Manufacturing Strategy Task Force to make recommendations regarding specified matters for incorporation into the Strategy, including short- and long-term goals for the manufacturing sector. Directs that: (1) each final Strategy be published on a public website; and (2) the first Strategy be issued by February 28, 2011. Directs the Comptroller General, three years after publication of a Strategy, to review its recommendations. Requires the President to convene a President’s Manufacturing Strategy Board to provide information and recommendations regarding the needs of, and opportunities for, the nation’s manufacturing sector. Directs the National Academy of Sciences to: (1) conduct quadrennial studies concerning U.S. manufacturing; and (2) report each study’s results to Congress and the President. Provides for additional required and discretionary studies. Requires the President, in preparing each annual budget, to include information regarding that budget’s consistency with the goals and recommendations included in the latest Strategy.

The key is that the administration must develop a national manufacturing strategy. This means we will finally catch up to what our competitors in the world already do! As Rep. Lipinski of Illinois states at his website,

The legislation requires the President to consult with the private sector to produce a strategy containing a set of specific policy recommendations for strengthening American manufacturing in order to create jobs and ensure America can provide for its own defense. A poll released last month by the Alliance for American Manufacturing shows that Americans overwhelmingly favor passage of a National Manufacturing Strategy and believe more must be done to stem the loss of manufacturing jobs.

“Over the last decade, America has lost one-third of all its manufacturing jobs,” Congressman Lipinski (IL-03) said. “Contrary to what some seem to believe, these job losses were not inevitable, and I do not accept the notion that there is nothing we can do. Clearly, another decade like the last one would dramatically undermine the American middle class and, most importantly, leave us unable to produce many of the goods we require for our national security. The National Manufacturing Strategy Act will bring government and the private sector together to produce a detailed strategy

for revitalizing American manufacturing that includes specific goals and recommendations on how to meet them.”

At the National Association of Manufacturers Shopfloor blog NAM President John Engler is encouraging a very different approach (PDF) that unfortunately includes the old approach of cutting taxes for the wealthy, breaking unions, making if impossible for citizens to use the courts to get justice when big companies cause harms (“tort reform”), deregulating corporations so they can harm workers and the environment at will, importing workers who are paid less to reduce American wages, etc. Hey guys, give it up, those conservative policies already failed us! Get on board with the Making It In America initiative!

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