Tariffs, Tactics and a Manufacturing Strategy

By July 22, 2010Economy, General, Trade

The National Association of Manufacturers’ strong support for the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, H.R. 4380, was cited several times by advocates on the House floor yesterday, including by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. (Page H546 of The Congressional Record.) We’re pleased the NAM could help: It’s an important bill, and the strong bipartisan vote of 378-43 should inspire the Senate to quick action after nearly three years of Congressional delay.

The political tactics were something to behold, too, as the Democrats put the Republicans in a quandary: Either back GOP leadership on a one-year moratorium of earmarks or vote for jobs.  The AP story describes the circumstances, “Conflicted GOP supports trade bill,” while Politico provides an illustration, “Dem: GOP ‘parks brain at the door’.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) followed the vote with remarks on the House floor about his caucus’ leadership on jobs and the economy, knocking the Bush Administration, and adumbrating next week’s House focus on manufacturing. Excerpt (starting at H5902):

In coming weeks we will be bringing to the floor the Make It in America agenda. A comprehensive strategy to boost American manufacturing. It’s based on the idea that when more products are made in America, more well-paying, blue collar jobs, white collar jobs, no-collar jobs are going to be created; and it will be possible for more people to make it in America.

This bill, the Manufacturing Enhancement Act, is the first piece of that agenda. It includes hundreds of tariff suspensions and reductions so that American companies will find it easier to obtain the materials they need to produce goods, grow, and add workers, which we passed today. So we’ve already started on that agenda.

And by the way, I noticed that our Republican friends out of habit voted “no.” Then they started talking to one another and said, Hey, you know what this bill does? It starts to grow our economy. By the way, the National Association of Manufacturers are for this bill these Democrats put on the floor. They’re for it because they know it helps to build jobs. And, oh, by the way, the Chamber of Commerce is for this bill. Why? Because it starts to build jobs. That’s the agenda the Democrats are on. And did you notice how they sort of all talked and said, Hey, gee, maybe I better vote for that bill and we saw those “noes” go to “aye,” “noes” go to “yes.” It was a strange experience for them. I hope it’s catching.

I hope they will keep doing it. I hope they will keep saying “yes” to the American worker. I hope they will keep saying “yes” to growing manufacturing capability in America. I hope they will say “yes” to the proposition that we can, we should, and we will make it in America.

America is the greatest land on the face of the Earth, and our people are some of the most talented, innovative, entrepreneurial people on Earth, and if we give them the tools and we give them the opportunity, they will compete with anybody in the world.

That’s why we, Democrats, are committed to an agenda that says, yes, we can, we will make it in America, and in that enterprise, a manufacturing expansion, more people will make it in America.

It’s not quite clear yet what that manufacturing agenda is going to include. One hopes leadership omits H.R. 4678, the awful Foreign Manufacturer Legal Accountability Act, that despite all its good intentions would create lengthy, expensive delays in importing products, disrupt supply lines, encourage more frivolous lawsuits and invite worldwide trade retaliation. (Coalition letter in opposition.) The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the bill out on Wednesday, which suggests an intent to act next week.

Thankfully, as yesterday’s debate demonstrated, when debating manufacturing Democrats and Republicans alike want to hear from manufacturers. The National Association of Manufacturers has developed a policy guide and call to action to transcend tactics to address what’s really needed for the U.S. economy and workers — a comprehensive, strategic vision for the manufacturing economy.

The document is “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and American Competitive.” It’s available at http://www.nam.org/manufacturingstrategy. We look forward to it being cited repeatedly next week on the floor of the House.

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