From Manufacturers and Michigan, an Administration Assessment

Today’s Detroit News include a good package of coverage on the manufacturing sector’s views of the Obama Administration, focusing on the experiences and attitudes of the beleaguered manufacturers in Michigan. Quite balanced, “Obama faces tough test with manufacturers“:

Washington — Manufacturers in Michigan and throughout the United States are still not sure what an Obama presidency means for them and say that several tests of what was expected to be a rocky relationship lie ahead.

Four months into President Barack Obama’s first term and with a Democratic-controlled Congress, they’re watching for signs on how he will handle the nation’s expiring blueprint for highway spending, three pending trade bills, climate change and health care reform.

So far, manufacturers have given Obama high grades for his handling of the economic crisis, but they’re concerned about the president’s support for the Employee Free Choice Act — better known as “card check” — which makes it easier for workers to form unions. Also of concern are the White House’s proposed changes to tax rules on foreign earnings of U.S. companies and a carbon “cap and trade” policy to combat climate change.

Part of the story grows out of a reporter’s roundtable the NAM held when board members were in town for the Manufacturing Summit, May 6 and 7. For example:

At a National Association of Manufacturers roundtable discussion this month, some of Obama’s tax and labor policies were referred to as “scary,” “anti-business” and “anti-jobs.”

But one summit attendee — Michael Campbell, president and CEO of Arch Chemicals and the association’s chairman — spoke admiringly of Obama’s economic team and signals that he intends to expand global trade.

“I don’t see a lot of friction between us and the administration,” Campbell said. “There’s probably genuine apprehension about some of the policy proposals. But in terms of what specifically is being worked now, I think there’s more opportunity for us to work with them than against them.”

The “scary” and “anti-business” policies people were thinking tended to be things like the Employee Free Choice Act and the proposed tax increases (deferral and S Corporations) that would make manufacturing in the United States less globally competitive.

Washington reporter Deb Price wrote the stories.

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