Obama Appoints Two For Cabinet-Level Manufacturing Policy

Dave Johnson

President Obama has appointed Commerce Secretary John Bryson and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling to co-chair a new White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. The new Office of Manufacturing Policy will have cabinet-level status, reflecting the importance of the manufacturing sector to our economy. It will coordinate the efforts of different government agencies, such as the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce and the Transportation Department.

The idea of a coordinated government manufacturing/industrial/economic policy has been in disfavor for some time, with conservatives deriding the concept as “picking winners and losers.” The right-wing blog RedState, for example, calls this new effort “central planning” and calls the new appointees “czars.” Other countries, however, do have coordinated industrial policies. So the result of our own abandonment of government coordination while countries like China and Germany charge ahead has been that we send our companies out on their own to compete against national systems. Even our largest companies have a very hard time up against this kind of supercharged opposition. We lost as many as 50,000 factories and millions of manufacturing jobs during the conservative-dominated Bush years, and have carried a massive trade deficit since Reagan’s presidency.

The White House issed a press release, President Obama Names Commerce Secretary John Bryson, NEC Chair Gene Sperling as Co-Chairs of White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. From the release,

President Obama today announced that Secretary John Bryson would join National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling as co-chair of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. The Office of Manufacturing Policy is part of the National Economic Council in the White House and works across federal government agencies to coordinate the execution of manufacturing programs and the development of manufacturing policy.

“At this make or break time for the middle class and our economy, we need a strong manufacturing sector that will put Americans back to work making products stamped with three proud words: Made in America,” said President Obama. “I am grateful that Secretary Bryson and Gene Sperling will head up this office to continue our efforts to revitalize this great American industry and fight for American workers and jobs.”

… The President has also called on Congress to help revitalize American manufacturing, including continuing to push for an expanded, simplified, and permanent research and development tax credit which would provide the certainty and predictability manufacturers need to invest in innovation. In addition, the President’s American Jobs Act would extend the 100 percent capital purchase expensing provision signed into law in December 2010 and make an immediate $50 billion investment for highway, highway safety, transit, passenger rail, and aviation activities.

Since the bottom of the recession in 2009, manufacturing production has grown 14 percent while real goods exports have grown 29 percent. Over this same period, U.S. manufacturing has added over 300,000 jobs, the first time the sector has experienced sustained job growth in over a decade, but more must be done to revitalize American manufacturing.

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