Our man on the street, Keith Smith, attended this morning’s speech at the Economic Policy Institute by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The occasion was the labor-backed EPI’s forum, Agenda for Shared Prosperity. Keith reports that, among other things, Brown talked about the manufacturing possibilities of alternative energy technology, and focused much of his remarks on trade. Keith:
The crowd gave resounding applause when the Senator declared he wants to hit the ‘pause button’ on trade agreements and that ‘the President wants three more under his belt before he leaves, but he’s not going to get them.’ Brown argued that the pivotal election states need to look at NAFTA and re-examine the benefits of trade.
Agreed. In 2006 more half of Ohio’s manufactured goods exports were sent to our NAFTA partners, and the value of those exports has by more 30 percent since 2001. Brown suggested that we write new trade agreements that allow manufacturing to thrive, apparently overlooking the benefit of FTAs as the great trade bulldozer that levels the international playing field.
Brown did echo the NAM’s concerns about the skills gap, saying there is a need for a manufacturing skills certificate to verify a worker’s skills across numerous states. In the 80 roundtables he’s held throughtout Ohio the shortage of skilled workers has consistently registered as a huge concern for manufacturers. Endorsing the primacy of skills, rather than a four-year college degree, Brown identified addressing the skills gap as a “big idea” that Congress and the next President can pursue.
EPI says it will be posting a transcript of the event.
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