The beginning of the beginning

By March 15, 2013General

That would be a good way to describe what’s happening in Congress this week. It’s the beginning of the statutorily mandated budget season with the House and Senate Budget Committees majorities unveiling their budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2014. This is the first time  that’s happened in four years and, for manufacturers, that’s a positive step towards getting our fiscal house in order  We have long said that it’s time to end the tendency over the past several years to ricochet from one economic precipice to another. It’s is time for comprehensive entitlement and tax reforms that would result in getting our nation’s debt and deficit picture under control.

So this week’s action is something that has been sorely needed. Broadly speaking, both the House Republican and Senate Democratic proposals call for tax reform, both seek to reform the growth of entitlement spending and both seek to stabilize the debt. Of course though, as with the way most things have gone in Washington over the past several years, that’s about where the similarities end because how each plan proposes to accomplish these goals is entirely at odds and which one prevails will have many real, significant and lasting impacts on the nation.

We are pleased that the House Republican budget would result in a balanced ledger in 10 years. And we’re pleased that the Senate Democrats in their budget include a nod toward tinkering with a long-sacred cow of entitlement spending although there is a still a long way to go. As NAM’s president Jay Timmons said in the recently released Growth Agenda, “The United States needs a comprehensive plan for economic growth. A bipartisan commitment in Washington to pro-growth policies will make our nation a more competitive place to do business.”  This plan has typically started with the budget process.

This is not to say that just because budgets have been marked up in the respective House and Senate Committees that we’re in for smooth sailing from here. By no means is that likely to be the case, however, as we said at the outset, this is the beginning of the beginning. And we hope it’s the beginning of a real and substantive conversation that will move beyond talking points and allow for a conversation about what the United States needs to fully emerge from the recent economic slow-down and once again compete.

Manufacturers have many ideas of what’s needed to fully accomplish this and those are described in the Growth Agenda and to once again use Jay’s words “manufacturers need our elected leaders to choose policies that make this country a better place to invest, a better place to innovate and a better place from which to export. They must choose policies that strengthen our workforce so that it meets the needs of manufacturing in the 21st century.” This means that we need tax reform, entitlement reform and spending reform that will allow our nation and its businesses to know what the path is and to know that the economy is on sound footing and government is not hampering growth. Tackling these tough issues will not be easy but it is essential for us to compete in the global economy. The NAM will continue to advocate for the policies that will succeed in Making America strong.

Carolyn Lee

Carolyn Lee

Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute at The Manufacturing Institute
Carolyn Lee is Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute, the non-profit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation’s largest industrial trade association. Carolyn drives an agenda focused on improving the manufacturing industry through its three centers: the Center for the American Workforce, the Center for Manufacturing Research, and the Center for Best Practices.

In her role, Carolyn leads the Institute’s workforce efforts to close the skills gap and inspire all Americans to enter the U.S. manufacturing workforce, focusing on women, youth, and veterans. Carolyn steers the Institute’s initiatives and programs to educate the public on manufacturing careers, improve the quality of manufacturing education, engage, develop and retain key members of the workforce, and identify and document best practices. In addition, Carolyn drives the agenda for the Center for Manufacturing Research, which partners with leading consulting firms in the country. The Institute studies the critical issues facing manufacturing and then applies that research to develop and identify solutions that are implemented by companies, schools, governments, and organizations across the country.

Prior to joining the Institute, Carolyn was Senior Director of Tax Policy at the NAM beginning in 2011, where she was responsible for key portions of the NAM’s tax portfolio representing the manufacturing community on Capitol Hill and in the business community and working closely with the NAM membership. She served as the Director of Legislative and Government Affairs at the Telecommunications Industry Association, Manager of State and Federal Government Affairs for 3M Company, and in various positions on Capitol Hill including as Legislative Director for former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and as a senior legislative staff member for former U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY).

Carolyn is a graduate of Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania graduating with a B.A. in Political Science. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and three children.
Carolyn Lee

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