NAM Board Meeting Update

By September 28, 2005General

A busy day at the NAM Board of Directors meeting. Some highlights:

— Senate Majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) opened the plenary session, hit all the high points, noting that Katrina has made it clearer than ever that we need to find alternate sources of energy, welcome words to this room full of manufacturers. He also talked about judicial nominations, the soaring costs of health care, the need for an asbestos bill, and the importance of passing CAFTA, thanking manufacturers for their role in the latter issue.

— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Co-Chair of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, followed. Starting with Iraq, he reminded the crowd that it took the US some eleven years to write a Constitution and urged patience with the Iraqi process. He then turned to domestic issues, calling the energy bill “a good down payment toward ending dependence on Middle East oil.” He noted (more on this later) that France gets some 80% of its energy from nuclear power. He spent a fair amount of time on a pet issue of his, Social Security and urged the manufacturers not to “take a pass on tough issues” like this. He said the Democrats are “AWOL” on the debate and noted that not a single Democrat has come up with a comprehensive plan for saving Social Security, called on them to join the debate aimed at solving the problem. On China, he talked about the importance of intellectual property protection, saying that we need to tell the Chinese simply, “Stop Cheating!”.

Sen. Graham was followed by Commerce Secretary (and former manufacturing executive) Carlos Gutierrez. He began where Graham left off, on intellectual property (IP) protection, noting that IP theft is estimated to cost business some $250 billion a year, and some 750,000 jobs. The World Health Organization estimates that around 10% of all medicines worldwide are counterfeit. He argues that we should treat counterfeit goods the same as we treat counterfeit cash, with harsh penalties and zero tolerance. “Protection of IP”, said Gutierrez, ” is vital to our economic growth.” Finally, on the topic of hurricane clean-up, he said that the biggest engine for growth in the Gulf Coast is the private sector. Business — not government — will revitalize the Gulf. Not like anyone in this room of job creators had to be reminded of that, but it was appreciated.

All in all, a stellar lineup, a good day. Here’s a link to the video of the day’s proceedings.