As you read this, the blogger-in-chief sits in sunny Orlando, Florida, at the International Sleep Products Association meeting. We had our press briefing in Washington yesterday (NAM members click here to access it) and got a bunch of questions from the Fourth Estate, seeking our reaction on the Dems’ agenda. Some highlights:
— Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi has said she will push through some tough new ethics laws, aimed at lobbyists, of course. One reporter asked us if Pelosi’s ethics push and the new lineup of Committee Chairs (click here to see the likely ones and their NAM Vote Ratings) made us fear this “new scrutiny.” The short answer is no, we don’t fear any scrutiny. We have taken Congressional Staff — Republicans and Democrats both — on manufacturing plant tours in such garden spots as Detroit, Cleveland and Northern New Jersey. All such trips were approved in advance by the House and Senate ethics committees. For most of the tour participants, it is the first time in their lives they have ever been inside a manufacturing facility. As you manufacturers know, there ain’t nothing like it. We will push to continue to be able to do these trips. Jack Abramoff didn’t stretch the law, he flat out broke the law. Congress ought not overreact to the lingering vestiges of the Abramoff scandal by prohibiting the vital education of Congressional staff.
— Another reporter asked about outsourcing and what we expected from the Dems on that front. As most of you regular blog readers know, “outsourcing” is a political word that largely vanished from the scene once the Presidential election of 2004 was in the barn. Companies locate facilities typically to be close to the customer. But to indulge Lou Dobbs’ hysteria for a moment, we need to create a climate in this country that allows manufacturing to survive and prosper. If policy makers are really concerned about “outsourcing,” they need to make sure they make the economic climate here manufacturing-friendly. That means lowering legal costs (the highest in the world), lowering energy costs (the highest natural gas prices in the world), and lowering taxes (the second-highest corporate tax rate in the world), for starters. We hope the action matches the rhetoric on this issue.
— We got a lot of questions about trade. No doubt the climate for passing more trade agreements just got worse. We remind everyone that 100 Democrats voted for NAFTA (Bill Clinton was its champion), yet only 15 Dems voted for CAFTA years later. This is a troubling trend. We need more pro-trade Democrats, because trade agreements open markets for US-made goods. They are good for American manufacturers. We need more of them.
The bottom line for us is that our issues are not partisan issues. Our issues are all about the continued health of manufacturing, issues which go to the heart of the continued prosperity of this country. You can see the issues on which we rank Members of Congress: tax, trade, legal reform, energy issues. Those won’t change as the party in power changes. It’s not a Republican or Democrat agenda, it’s an American agenda, one we hope the new leadership will embrace.
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