Remarks as prepared for delivery.
Well, good afternoon. Thank you, Scott [Schloegel] for the introduction.
And most importantly, thank you to everyone who’s here today. Your support for the Export-Import Bank is support for American workers and manufacturers in the United States.
U.S. manufacturers are strong advocates for the Ex-Im Bank because we see firsthand the difference it makes in people’s lives and livelihoods.
I’m proud to be here today not only to say “thank you,” but also to urge the administration and Congress to come together and move forward soon. Manufacturers want to see the agency fully operational again. There are jobs to create and business to win—and we don’t want to wait any longer.
So, let’s get to work.
Now, I’m honored to be joined today by a great manufacturing leader, Chuck Wetherington, president of BTE Technologies. He’s also the vice chair of our Small and Medium Manufacturers Group at the NAM.
We’re going to have a conversation, and Chuck, you’ll see, is a great champion of the Ex-Im Bank.
Let me just set the stage a little for that conversation.
As manufacturers, our message is straightforward: we need a fully operational export credit agency to level the playing field. We’re in a global economy, and 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders. Our competitor nations have robust export credit agencies, and they’re beating us as a result.
If you want to make manufacturing in the United States even greater, we can’t start from a competitive disadvantage.
And we must keep in mind that it’s small businesses that are losing while we’re in a holding pattern. Some small businesses, in fact, have big deals on hold right now because the Ex-Im Bank can’t process them. And small businesses stand to lose much more the longer we wait to act. Year after year, 90 percent of Ex-Im transactions directly support small businesses.
Moreover, the deals with larger companies that the agency can’t make right now…they would also support small companies that are the suppliers for those bigger brands. And I don’t want anyone to lose sight of that as well.
The Ex-Im Bank is a great success story. And at a time when manufacturing has captured the imagination of our leaders and the American people, I know our policymakers are eager to implement a strategy that will make our companies as competitive as possible in every market. I see the Ex-Im Bank as a vital component of that strategy.
Now, even with the Ex-Im Bank in the situation that it is, we have reason to be optimistic. In fact, our recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey revealed that manufacturers are feeling more positive about the future of their companies than at any time in the survey’s 20-year history.
So the state of manufacturing is strong. Our industry is diversifying, increasing output and bringing us transformative technologies.
We are charting new frontiers and supporting new jobs. But we could be doing so much more.
And for the first time in a long time, that’s achievable. In addition to making progress on the Ex-Im Bank, we could see bold action on tax reform, infrastructure investment and regulatory reform.
The landscape is tough. But I believe it can be done—and it must be done.
The last major overhaul of the U.S. tax code was in 1986. Think about it: in 1986, there wasn’t internet in every home, never mind in every pocket. Fax machines were the hot technology at six minutes per page to transmit. Forget 3-D printing; we barely had color printing. And there were 86 million fewer people in the country.
Manufacturers have innovated over the past 30 years, the country and economy have transformed, but the U.S. tax system, well, it hasn’t kept pace.
To spur job creation, business tax reform must have a few essential goals:
Reduce the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, which is what the president has proposed.
Small businesses and pass-throughs should see taxes reduced as well.
We want to shift to a modern territorial international tax system.
And we want to strengthen R&D incentives and see faster deductions for capital investments.
On the regulatory front, we’ve seen many positive developments in recent weeks. But we have a long way to go. A recent NAM study found that manufacturers are subject to 297,696 federal regulations. And the cost of regulatory compliance for small manufacturers is nearly $35,000 per employee per year.
Regulatory reform—making regulations smarter, simpler and streamlined—is one of the quickest ways to create jobs and give manufacturers the confidence to expand.
We know it’s possible to have safe workplaces and environmental stewardship at the same time our economy is experiencing robust growth. If we can work together, from the Department of Labor to the EPA, we can achieve those goals.
Now on the infrastructure front, I like to think the NAM got out ahead on this one. We saw over the summer that both candidates were hot on infrastructure investment. So we said we don’t want these good intentions to devolve into the disappointments of the 2009 stimulus bill.
We released an infrastructure plan of our own, called “Building to Win.” It certainly wasn’t exhaustive, but it did point out the big problems, the economic opportunities and even the price tag and pay-fors.
I’m proud to say that the Trump campaign cited our plan favorably when laying out their vision for infrastructure last fall. Administration officials have cited it publicly since taking office. And we hear public statements from leading Democrats—and Republicans—about the type of modernization we’re calling for. So I think we have a good foundation to build on.
You really can’t overstate the urgency of the need here. Our infrastructure is not what a 21st-century economic powerhouse needs. It’s crumbling, it’s outdated, and frankly, it’s dangerous.
Millions of jobs are at stake. Without immediate action on the infrastructure crisis, the United States will lose more than 2.5 million jobs by 2025 and more than 5.8 million by 2040.
If we invest now, we will put America on a stronger foothold, better able to compete in the global marketplace for at least the next generation.
Now, ultimately, this all comes back to the same theme: competitiveness. We must be competitive in the global economy.
Advances in technology and transportation over recent decades have created substantial new opportunities for manufacturers in the United States to reach millions of foreign consumers.
In fact, we have seen world trade in manufactured goods quadruple over the past quarter century. Trade has never been more important to manufacturers.
Manufacturers in the United States need robust trade policies and agreements that open markets, protect U.S. property and standards and ensure strong enforcement of core rules of fairness in the global economy. We’re working on NAFTA and other issues right now so that we can make sure that our trade agreements and trade rules work as effectively as possible to grow U.S. manufacturing and jobs.
I know in this room, I’m preaching to the choir. But for all of you who are working to make the case for the Ex-Im Bank or for any of these other policy priorities, know this: the NAM is on your side. We will not back down. We will continue to lead. And if you need resources, facts or real-world stories, we can work with you.
This is our time. Manufacturing animated the presidential race. Manufacturers propelled a change election. And the president of the United States has made manufacturing in the United States his signature issue. We intend to seize the moment.
So, thank you, and Chuck, let’s have a conversation.
Media Contact: Jennifer Drogus, (202) 637-3090