Tonight’s debate opened with a focus on jobs. It was a good start and exactly where our focus needs to be.
Manufacturing means jobs. Manufacturing means secure, good-paying jobs that help drive our economy. Governor Romney laid out a strong jobs program built on the fundamental principles of a pro-growth agenda. He correctly noted that tax revenues for the government only go up when people have jobs that allow them to pay taxes in the first place. Sixty-six percent of manufacturers pay taxes at the individual rate, and a tax hike for these job creators will stop job creation in its tracks. Washington policies that include looming tax hikes have resulted in 55 percent of surveyed small businesses and manufacturers saying they would not start a business today. Allowing manufacturers to invest in their businesses and their workforce is the only true path to economic recovery.
Ensuring that the workforce has the proper training and skills is a consistent concern for manufacturers in the U.S. Despite an unemployment rate that has been above 8 percent for the past few years, we still have 600,000 jobs that remain open because manufacturers can’t find workers with the skills to match the jobs. President Obama’s focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education opportunities is a critical aspect of creating the type of workforce that will drive the innovation that will maintain America’s place as the number-one manufacturing nation in the world.
But the spirit of the American dream, of people lifting themselves up through education, could take a backseat if the trend of picking winners and losers in business continues. The attempt to “villainize” energy producers in the U.S. was predictable, but it won’t get us any closer to the “all-of-the-above” energy policy that we sought after. Manufacturers, as consumers of one-third of our nation’s energy supply, need affordable and consistent energy resources to drive our economy. Governor Romney was absolutely right when he called for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Keystone XL represented one of the single strongest opportunities for job creation in the past couple of years, and the discussion of energy policy returned the debate right back to where the focus needed to be on—jobs.