Republican Candidate Manufacturing Forum

Dave Johnson

After a decade of Republican policies that dearly cost the country’s manufacturing sector, Republican Presidential candidates today offered ideas for reviving our country’s jobs engine. Unfortunately those ideas are the same ideas that got us into this mess in the first place: cut taxes on the richest 1%, pass trade policies that push jobs and factories out of the country, cut regulations that protect the 99%, cut government so it can’t do its job, cut democracy, and let the biggest corporations make all the decisions. They also said we should gut efforts to put our country on the map in the green manufacturing revolution, instead favoring the continued dominance of Big Oil and King Coal.

Here is a brief look at the results of the Bush years of Republican dominance:

  • More than 40,000 U.S. manufacturing plants closed between 2001 and 2009 (including 36 percent of factories employing more than 1,000 workers).
  • From 2000 to 2009, 5.5 million or 32 percent of all manufacturing jobs were lost.
  • The last time fewer than 12 million people worked in the manufacturing sector was in 1941.
  • In 2009, 1.2 billion cell phones were sold worldwide. None were manufactured inside the United States.

This morning’s Republican Presidential Forum on Manufacturing was hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). It took place at the Vermeer Corporation headquarters in Pella, Iowa and was moderated by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and PBS Nightly Business Report Co-Anchor and Managing Editor Tom Hudson. Attending were Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). Mitt Romney and Herman Cain did not attend. Each candidate was questioned for ten minutes, and there was no back-and-forth between candidates.

The candidates agreed on the need to get rid of taxes, regulations, tariffs and trade protections and the ability of people to sue when they are harmed by large corporations. They felt that big companies that have outsourced jobs and factories should be allowed to bring the resulting profits back into the country without paying taxes. They said the government needs to be downsized. They also agreed that the country should scrap efforts to help develop energy sources other than oil and coal.

The candidates disagreed on how much of the government and taxes should be eliminated. Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul felt that the entire government and all taxes should go, while Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich felt that only the things that affect large multi-national companies should go, leaving in place the things that keep smaller companies from being able to compete with the large ones.

Newt Gingrich demanded that unemployed people be required to take job training classes in the areas that serve the bigger corporations instead of the individual.

Ron Paul said that a lower dollar would cause inflation. (Most economists say a lower dollar would make American products more competitive in world markets.)

None of the candidates promoted the idea of a national industrial policy to help American manufacturers compete with countries that have such policies. None of the candidates promoted the idea of Buy American policies, where the federal, state and local governments give preference to American companies and products in their procurement policies. And none of the candidates mentioned China, unless I missed it.

Meanwhile, there are constructive policy ideas for reviving America’s lead in manufacturing. From Today’s Big Idea To Get America Working: Revive American Manufacturing,

A bold jobs plan aims to boost American manufacturing by insisting that:
International trade be on a truly level playing field.
America adopt a national manufacturing/industrial/economic policy.
Congress write into law a “Buy American” policy for government procurement.
The administration execute a plan for capturing the lead in green energy.

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