Our biennial “72 Hours” event has at last come to a close, manufacturers are getting back on airplanes and heading back home — to those airports that are open, as NAM President John Engler cracked today. But while they were here, they did a lot of good, storming Capitol Hill and pressing lawmakers on our four priorities: Extending the R&D tax credit, pushing the new NAM energy proposal, opposing the idiotic — and anti-democracy — card check bill and pressing for Trade Promotion Authority for the President, to open more markets to US manufacturers. We covered most of the highlights, but a few snippets and vignettes from the week stand out in our minds:
The bad weather all along the East Coast and the Midwest was a frequent topic of discussion. Most of our crowd arrived well in advance of the storm. Gov. Engler remarked to the assembled troops, ready to visit Congress, “We’ve got them trapped. The airports are closed. It’s a good opportunity.:
In unveiling the NAM’s “Energy Security for American Competitiveness,” Gov. Engler noted that China has added 102 gigawatts of power capacity last year alone, twice the generating capacity of California. And, 90% of it is from coal-burning plants.
Copies of our energy plan were sent to every announced 2008 Presidential candidate. We intend to make it an issue and press every one of them to see where they stand. Truth is, manufacturers will do that on their own.
Also while unveiling our energy plan, Gov. Engler mentioned that technology has made it possible to tap the Barnett Shale under Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Impossible in 2000, they now are pulling 1.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas out of there every day.
Vice President Cheney, in making the pitch for Trade Promotion Authority noted that the countries with which we have trade agreements account for 10% of world GDP, but 40% of US trade. Like we said, trade agreements open markets to US-manufactured goods.
Vice President Cheney also mentioned in his remarks that the growth alone in US GDP since 2001 would exceed the entire GDP of Canada.
At the kick-off dinner, Weekly Standard Editor Fred Barnes told the crowd of the importance of grass-roots lobbying, told them how influential a voice from the district really is in a Congressional office. He’s right, often easy to forget in the cloud of cynicism that engulfs this place.
All in all, it was a great week. Everywhere you went on Valentine’s Day, you saw the “I (Heart) Manufacturing” buttons. At the reception, we handed out red and white M&M’s with the same message. Love for manufacturing was in the air, no doubt about it. Now let’s see if they’ll all still love us tomorrow.