Report from America: The NAM Board Meeting

By March 2, 2006Report from America

Report from AmericaJust getting started out here in the sunny climes of Arizona where it’s all business for the NAM Board of Directors. We’ll file a report each day to fill you in on the various goings-on, but today our small and medium manufacturers met. As is their practice, they do a survey every year of their top three issues of the 50 or so small manufacturer Directors assembled for the meeting. It’s informal, just a top-of-the-head kind of thing, but the results always reinforce what we hear from them throughout the year.

The top issue on everyone’s minds this time is health care (as it most always is). However, a close second is the price of natural gas. It speaks volumes that the price of natural gas could be ranked as high as health care, an issue bedeviling to all manufacturers. And, as hard as the health care issue is to solve, the natural gas problem’s solution is quite easy. We have 420 trillion cubic feet of it sitting off of our coast. If Congress lifted the federal moratorium, we’d see prices drop immediately. Very frustrating when we hold the key to competitiveness and don’t use it.

Third on their list was China, specifically enforcement of the world’s trade laws. And fourth was the permanent repeal of the death tax. These small manufacturers get hammered on the death of an owner, often have to sell the company or saddle it with crushing debt just to pay the death tax. This is asinine. If the company doesn’t change hands, i.e., if it stays in the family, why should the death tax have to be paid? Remember that a $10 million manufacturing company is quite a small company, since we’re so capital intensive. This is just flat unfair and ought to be permanently repealed.

So that’s report #1 from our Board meeting. It’s always fun to be among the best manufacturers in the world. These are very successful, very smart, very innovative men and women. Should be a good week.