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Advancing Trade, Strengthening Transatlantic Partnership

Open trade is one of the best hopes for the long-term success of manufacturing in the United States as our manufacturers increasingly seek to access the world economy. The NAM has prioritized international engagement because by working closely with government leaders, our allied business organizations and manufacturers overseas, we can enhance our impact, strengthen and grow commercial relationships and expand markets and opportunities for manufacturers throughout the United States.

That is why today I am in Spain, at the invitation of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), to be part of a U.S. delegation to the U.S.-Spain Council Annual Forum to discuss transatlantic trade issues with Spanish leaders and our counterparts. The United States and the European Union already have the world’s largest commercial relationship, but major opportunities for increased trade and investment between the United States and European Union remain untapped. Most important from a commercial perspective is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement, which I have been asked to discuss as part of a panel tomorrow that includes Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke, Spanish State Secretary for Trade Jaime García-Legaz and Chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Spain Jaime Malet.

T-TIP has the potential to expand markets for manufacturers in Europe and the United States and to enhance the global competitiveness of industry on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s vital that manufacturers’ priorities, such as removing unnecessary barriers and red tape at the borders, regulatory coherence and robust intellectual property and investment protections, are incorporated in any agreement. I intend to make that case—and to emphasize that it is well past time to seize opportunities like T-TIP and expand our commercial relationships in ways that will jump-start greater economic opportunity and remove the obstacles to trade.

Jay Timmons is the President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers




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Remembering David Olson

David Olson, President of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

David Olson, President of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Manufacturers lost a great leader. Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President David Olson will be missed greatly by manufacturers, his fellow NAM Board Members and many more across the country.

David left us after a life not long enough, but long enough for joy and love and laughter and good times – and long enough to leave a lasting footprint on the business community, his state and his country.

He inspired all of us and will be remembered by the countless individuals whose lives he made better. David always had colorful stories to tell, laughs to laugh, words to write, legislators to buttonhole, lobbies to walk and battles to fight. He passionately led the business community in Minnesota for decades with great optimism and strong faith. As a champion for economic growth, he provided pragmatic solutions that transcended party politics.

What most of us remember best is not specifically what David did or said, but how he did it – as a unique, wonderful, patriotic and highly intelligent human being. He connected with each of us in some unusual way to get a job done. Through his words and actions, he made us proud and proud to know him.

He was the epitome of hardworking Minnesotan values and a leader among his peers. I was fortunate enough to count him as my friend.

In an industry that seems to grow more homogenized every day, David had very much his own voice. His lifetime of dedication serves as a monument to the exemplary man he was.  His integrity and hard work will encourage those who knew him and will continue to benefit those who make Minnesota their home for years to come.  Among the best things David has left behind is his shining example.

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Free Speech Under Assault

Some Senators seem committed to diminish an important aspect of our individual liberties by proposing to chill and limit the free speech rights of job creators. This unfortunately was manifested yet again as the latest iteration of the DISCLOSE Act was introduced yesterday. Free speech is a founding principle that defines who we are as a nation. Guaranteed to us by the First Amendment, the freedom of speech is at the bedrock of the democracy that made our country great. Unfortunately today this important individual liberty is under attack.

Continued and persistent efforts to erode speech based on the identity of the speaker in order to gain a political advantage are anathema to the principles for which our founding fathers fought. Today we must push back on these proposals on all fronts. Defending the right to speak freely without fear of reprisal is a fight that never ends. Proponents of such limits are seeking the most sweeping changes possible, as Senate Majority Leader Reid has even proposed the most drastic step of amending the Constitution to restrict speech about our own elected officials. This is the latest in a series of threats to individual liberty that I laid out early this month in remarks at the Adam Smith Dinner.

The NAM remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting the First Amendment rights for all Americans. As a nation, we are strongest when our right to voice our opinions is unimpeded. However, this important individual liberty should not be safeguarded only for politically favored groups. Manufacturers have a right to weigh in on the policies that will determine our future economic growth and global competitiveness, and we oppose the recent efforts by some in the Senate to hinder our right to petition officials that represent us in Washington.

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With trans-Pacific trade, “and” is better

By Jay Timmons and Phil O’Reilly

Ambition and speed. That’s what leaders of the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) should seek as they meet in Bali this week.

Launched in 2011, the TPP promises tremendous gains for businesses and workers from Singapore to Seattle and Osaka to Auckland. By eliminating barriers to trade in goods and services and opening new commerce and investment opportunities, the deal would create a nearly $28 trillion market of almost 800 million consumers encompassing 40 percent of global trade.

Critically, a trans-Pacific trade agreement can put an end to trade barriers left over from last century and create modern, workable disciplines in new areas and rapidly developing fields of technology that define competitiveness in today’s economy.

The stakes in Bali couldn’t be higher. After 19 rounds of negotiations, leaders will be under pressure to strike a political bargain that puts the TPP on track to finish by the end of this year. With markets struggling to emerge from a devastating global recession, we need the jobs, growth and economic opportunity a free trade agreement could provide.

With every month that passes without a deal, we miss vital chances to boost trade and investment and unlock the potential of our peoples. Indeed, the World Trade Organization expects global trade growth to slip to a meager 2.5 percent this year.

But we must also get the TPP done right. Two years ago, our leaders called for “a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st-century challenges.” They promised a TPP that is “a model for ambition and for other free trade agreements in the future.”

That bold vision must be at the forefront as leaders sit down at the bargaining table in Bali. They must agree that there should be no exceptions from product coverage.  They must rise to the challenge in complex areas like the protection of the ideas, brands and innovations that drive and sustain our creative economies.

Leaders must deliver commitments that ensure our borders remain open to data flows, and that digital products and services receive non-discriminatory treatment. They must ensure that our investments overseas which are critical for bringing our businesses closer to customers are fully protected and subject to state-of-the-art, neutral and binding enforcement mechanisms for all sectors and  for all types of investment contracts.

To succeed, businesses need an open market for goods, services and investment and effective rules which promote investment and innovation. We need the certainty of binding science- and risk-based food safety and animal and plant health commitments that are fully subject to dispute settlement.

At a time when the global rules-based system is under threat from many quarters, we can ill afford to compromise by changing the 65-year-old “general exceptions” provisions, which have ensured the ability of governments to regulate in the public interest but prevented them from hiding behind that exception to impose protectionist, non-scientific and unnecessarily trade-distorting measures.

Nearly two decades ago, Asia-Pacific Leaders met some 600 miles west of Bali in the West Javanese town of Bogor and set an ambitious goal of “free and open trade and investment” across the region. This week, New Zealand, the United States and ten other Asia-Pacific economies are moving closer to a deal that can achieve that goal.

Only a comprehensive, high-standard and commercially meaningful agreement that addresses 21st-century challenges will deliver free and open trade and investment. Getting there is possible. It will require commitment, strong leadership and an eye toward real results – not just an eye on the clock.

Jay Timmons is the President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers and Phil O’Reilly is the Chief Executive of Business New Zealand.


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The Keystone XL Pipeline Means Manufacturing Jobs

We strongly disagree with the President’s comments that only 2,000 jobs would be created with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Manufacturers are extremely disappointed by the President’s dismissal of the jobs-creating potential of the construction of this important project. In addition to the 20,000 construction jobs that the pipeline would create, 118,000 jobs would be created in the supply chain of the pipeline. These are manufacturing jobs to make the steel, valves, compressor stations and heavy equipment necessary to make the pipeline become a reality. The President’s comments ignore this important fact.

From a manufacturing perspective, the pipeline would provide a reliable and affordable supply, which would in return reduce energy costs for consumers. Manufacturers use one-third of this nation’s energy supply, so every dollar not spent on energy costs is a dollar that can be spent on expansion and additional jobs in our sector.

From a national security perspective, most Americans see the value in securing energy supplies from a friendly ally and neighbor so we can reduce our dependency on regimes that are hostile to our interests and our people.

Keystone XL needs to be approved for the good of our country’s competitiveness, our nation’s energy consumers, our national interests and especially the 138,000 Americans who desperately need the jobs that this project would create.

Manufacturers urge the President to put American jobs and U.S. competitiveness above politics and the unreasonable demands of special interests by expeditiously approving the international connection for Keystone XL.


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Economic Freedom Loses Leading Light

Jay Timmons with Lady Thatcher in 1995

Today, we often take our economic freedom for granted when, not too many years ago, the triumph of free enterprise was in serious question. But, thanks to leaders like Margaret Thatcher, freedom and economic opportunity are available to millions of people around the world.

Her passing today concludes a remarkable life, one that began in humble origins but rose to the heights of power. As Prime Minister, she not only used her political clout to expand liberty and economic opportunity in her country, but across the world. Working with her friend and partner President Ronald Reagan, they ensured that the bright torch of liberty was able to shine into the darkness created by decades of communist oppression. The pair set in motion the collapse of the Soviet Union and gave the world an uplifting and promising alternative to the destructive and dehumanizing ideology of communism.

Nearly two decades ago, I had the privilege to visit with the former Prime Minister when she came to Virginia to address the General Assembly, just as her predecessor Winston Churchill had done some 40 years before.

In 1995, memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall were still fresh in the minds of Americans, and during my encounter with the Lady Thatcher, I asked her, “It must have been amazing to watch the Berlin Wall fall. How did you feel when it happened?”

“Feel?” she stated without any hint of emotion. “Why I didn’t feel anything really. It was what was supposed to happen.”

For her, the march to liberty and freedom was as basic as our own DNA. In every fiber of her being, she knew it was humankind’s destiny, and it was just a matter of “when,” not “if,” it would happen for all the people of the world.

Virginia Governor and Mrs. George Allen and Jay Timmons speak with the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

The Iron Curtain that fell across Europe is but a rusty remnant. The challenges to freedom and prosperity, however, have returned anew. Economic freedom and prosperity remain at substantial risk, in particular on the very continent where Prime Minister Thatcher helped defeat communism. Both are also in jeopardy here at home, where our government has become unmoored from the limits envisioned by its founders and threatens to burden future generations with immense debt. And free market capitalism itself is being threatened by a new form of communism that outwardly doesn’t seem as vile as its Soviet and Maoist predecessors, but is every bit as dehumanizing.

Americans, and Brits as well, have a way of altering the road to history, and there is no doubt that we can overcome these 21st century obstacles. Just as we did in the 1970s, we seem to be waiting for another “perfect storm” of leaders to emerge on the world stage and stand out as giants again, as did Lady Thatcher, President Reagan and Pope John Paul II. The “Iron Lady” never lacked for will, and future leaders will need to emulate her leadership and commitment to principle that gave us a world where freedom, economic opportunity and prosperity made significant advances.

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It Bears Repeating: New Energy Taxes Will Cost Jobs in America

There are many ideas swirling around Washington these days on how to avoid the fiscal cliff and address our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges. Some ideas are good, but many are “nonstarters” for manufacturers, particularly if they include higher taxes on the industry. One bad idea in particular is raising taxes on the energy industry. The manufacturing sector is the largest energy consumer in the United States, using one-third of the nation’s energy. Imposing new energy taxes will drive up domestic energy production costs for manufacturers. In fact, raising taxes on domestic energy–producing companies will make it more expensive to produce everything in this country. Higher fuel costs will affect all Americans by increasing the cost of products made and the cost of products purchased.

And that’s not all. Energy tax increases will cost jobs. Millions of jobs will be at risk and future job creation thwarted if new energy taxes are enacted. With a persistent unemployment rate hovering around 8 percent, imposing new energy taxes is a bad idea. In addition, manufacturers and the broader business community will bear the brunt of higher fuel costs driven by new energy taxes, causing a further drag on job creation.

Energy independence is also at stake. The United States has made great advances recently in developing new domestic energy sources. Unfortunately, levying higher taxes on energy companies would discourage U.S. oil and gas investments, working against the goal of enhancing America’s energy security and boosting new, domestic investments in affordable energy sources.

The National Association of Manufacturers is working hard to convince Washington’s policymakers not to go over the fiscal cliff and instead get our nation’s fiscal house in order. Our support for this goal, however, doesn’t include increasing taxes for an industry or the broader manufacturing sector—a move we believe would make a bad situation even worse.

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Remembering Dexter Baker, Former NAM Chairman

Manufacturing lost an effective leader and one of its strongest advocates last week.  The NAM family was saddened to hear of the loss of Dexter F. Baker, who chaired the NAM Board of Directors in 1992.

Mr. Baker spent his career with Air Products and Chemicals, ultimately rising to serve as chairman and CEO.  As a manufacturer, he was ahead of his time. Mr. Baker saw the incredible possibilities offered by global commerce and helped Air Products expand into markets abroad.  Today, the company has expanded to over 50 countries.

Mr. Baker brought that same acumen to his tenure on the NAM Board of Directors. He helped position the NAM as a powerful voice for the manufacturing community and a leading advocate for pro-growth policies to help manufacturing expand and grow internationally, and create jobs.

We will be forever grateful for Dexter Baker’s leadership not only on behalf of manufacturing but also in his community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dexter’s wife of 61 years Dottie and his family.

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Looking Beyond Politics

Quick – who is ahead today in the polls?

Hey….did you hear the latest gaffe from the presidential candidates?

Remember when the President said “You didn’t make this?” Or when Governor Romney said “I can’t convince them to vote for me?

What about the latest stories the spouses told about their presidential candidate husbands’ early years in elementary school?

Here’s my question:  “Who cares?”

The media and political strategists seem to revel in spending countless hours of coverage on meaningless and trivial matters regarding the presidential race, and other campaigns for that matter.  Coming from a newspaper family (my mother was the publisher of my hometown paper), I am truly saddened at how media coverage has devolved into often times nothing more than entertainment.

With all due respect to the ravenous appetite to fill time in the 24/7 news cycle, we need to cut through the chatter.  America’s economy is at stake.  Indeed, America is at stake.

It’s time for Americans to take charge again.  And you can be on the front lines to do exactly that.

It is not an overstatement to say that this election is the most important of our lifetimes. That’s something we hear nearly every two years, but no other in our lifetimes has implications that will last generations as does this one.

Will we be a nation that embraces and cheers the free market, entrepreneurial spirit and capitalistic risk-taking that has made our country the freest, strongest and most prosperous in the history of the world?

Or will we become sedentary spectators who allow the federal government to squelch the fire of ingenuity by continuing to demonize success and forcing ever more reliance on a Washington bureaucracy that seems intent on diminishing the values of hard work and personal responsibility?

That is the choice we will make on Tuesday, November 6.

The NAM recently released a poll we commissioned with the National Federation of Independent Business.  The shocking results of the survey found that a whopping 55% of small businesses and manufacturers would not start their business today because of the burdens Washington places on them.

How can America’s economy recover and thrive in the future if our government policies discourage investment and risk?  When companies indicate they won’t expand and won’t hire because of our uncompetitive tax policies, our oppressive regulatory regime and the looming fiscal cliff, is anyone in Washington listening?  It sure doesn’t seem like it.

Against that backdrop, Americans will go to the polls and decide whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is the better leader to meet these challenges. Who has the best record – not the best rhetoric – to do the job?

For the past several months, both candidates have fallen over each other attempting to claim the mantle of the most supportive of manufacturing.  And the reason is clear – a strong and growing manufacturing base, with its outsized multiplier effect, is essential to growing the rest of our economy and fixing our nation’s addiction to deficit spending.

Their visions, however, differ radically, especially on issues that have a significant impact on manufacturing. And it isn’t difficult to figure out that the results will be vastly different.

The middle class has been affectionately wooed by both candidates on the issue of taxes.  But manufacturers get lost in the debate when President Obama calls on raising taxes on individuals of a certain income level.  No less than two-thirds of manufacturers – mostly small and medium sized companies – pay taxes as individuals, and they are already struggling to meet payroll.

Both candidates have called for comprehensive energy policies premised on an “all-of-the-above” strategy; yet “all of the above” means something different to each. Governor Romney, for example, makes room for the Keystone XL pipeline in his plan. It’s missing in the President’s approach.  And with much fanfare, Mr. Obama routinely calls for raising taxes on energy producers, which will ravage consumers – from senior citizens to manufacturers.

On regulations, Governor Romney has vowed to scale back the current Administration’s regulatory excesses, a task easier said than done. Many rules are mandated by statute or judicial decree, so a President’s authority to roll them back is limited. But it is certainly the right philosophy.  In the past, neither party has proven to be a model of restraint – some 2,000 have been imposed on manufacturers in the past 30 years.

There is a lot at stake – for manufacturers, for our economy, and for future generations of Americans.  So the next time someone asks you about an errant remarks at a debate, or tells you how great one of the candidates looks surrounded by their family, politely ask them this:  “Have you had a chance to compare the candidates on the issues? Do you know where they stand on taxes, on regulation, on energy and other issues that matter to our economy?”

The NAM’s Election Center has those answers, from the Presidential candidates, to those running for the Senate and the U.S. House. Share this site and the information with your colleagues and those in your community.  We need an informed and educated electorate to ensure pro-manufacturing policy is front and center after the election.

The key to our success starts with you.  Please vote and encourage your employees, your family and your friends to do the same.

Quite simply, America is at stake.

Jay Timmons is president and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers

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Manufacturers Offer a Vision for a Real Recovery

Tonight’s debate took on a very different format, and a very different tone from the first debate. It was much more combative with the candidates painting very different pictures of their vision for economic recovery and manufacturing growth.

Both President Obama and Governor Romney spoke early and often in support of growing manufacturing jobs in the United States. While it’s good to hear the support, it is incredibly important to implement policies that will not just lead to recovery, but to sustained growth. The candidates spent much of the night discussing the elements that make it 20 percent more expensive to manufacture in the United States—taxes, regulation, energy and trade.

Time and again, the conversation returned to job creation—fundamentally the most significant issue in this election. Manufacturers couldn’t agree more, but we’d like to remind the candidates that it’s also essential that we fill the 600,000 job openings in the manufacturing sector that remain unfilled today because employers can’t find workers with skills that match the jobs.

Energy policy is an immediate pathway to jobs. President Obama spoke about increased oil production and a desire for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, but yet again, this debate came and went without the President mentioning the Keystone XL pipeline. Governor Romney had it absolutely right when he told the audience at Hofstra University that we need to “take advantage of energy resources we have and we’ll see manufacturing jobs come back.” Governor Romney advocated in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline again and also spoke of shale gas, a game-changer that would create 1 million manufacturing jobs. The President also supported shale gas efforts, but his endorsement of more federal regulation on shale will handcuff the growth opportunity that it represents.

Special attention was paid to trade tonight—a critical aspect of our economy for manufacturing growth. President Obama deserves credit for signing the Colombia, South Korea and Panama free trade agreements and increasing exports. But manufacturers need more—the United States has a trade surplus with nations with whom we have free trade agreements. Governor Romney is right in the need for expanded trade that will open up markets for manufacturers in the United States and level the playing field around the world.

As the debate repeatedly returned to jobs, tax policy and its impact on economic growth was a focal point. Tonight the candidates doubled down on their position—Governor Romney in his support for bringing down rates across-the-board and President Obama in his support for an increase in the top individual rate. Unfortunately, if the two-thirds of manufacturers who file at the individual rate are hit with the looming tax hike, they will see a continuation of the tough times they’ve experienced over the past four years. With energy and health care costs increasing and the fiscal abyss approaching, manufacturers are getting squeezed on both ends. That’s not a recipe for economic growth.

Getting the nation on track again and putting our fiscal house in order requires addressing the factors that make it 20 percent more expensive to manufacture in the United States. The moment that we put in effect the pro-growth policies that manufacturers are calling for is the moment our true recovery can begin.

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