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Robyn Boerstling

NAM Supports Bill to Repeal Health Insurance Tax

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The onerous Health Insurance Tax included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was delayed thanks to bipartisan congressional action in 2015, and now new efforts to permanently repeal the anticipated 2018 tax are in the beginning stages.

Today, Reps. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced important legislation that repeals section 9010 of the ACA, a provision that levies a $100 billion tax on fully insured health plans—the primary health care option for many small and medium-sized manufacturers. Although officially a tax on health insurance plans, it is a “pass-through,” and the obligation is placed directly on those who are purchasing full-insured health plans.

The NAM has long supported repeal of this tax as it raises the cost of health care and provides an additional burden for employers who are also struggling to manage the overwhelming health care mandates and paperwork demands required by the ACA.

Manufacturers are proud to provide health insurance benefits for their employees, and in fact, 98 percent of manufacturers provide health insurance. Repeal of this tax will offer needed relief for smaller manufacturers who want to maintain a healthy workforce and continue doing right by their employees. However, challenges from the ACA are making it increasingly difficult to do so.

No one understands the frustrations of our health care system quite like manufacturersrising health care and insurance costs are a top business challenge in our most recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey. The Competing to Win agenda and health care policy blueprint of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) calls on the next Congress and administration to find solutions that will successfully eliminate the costliest and most problematic aspects of the ACA. The NAM appreciates the leadership of Reps. Noem and Sinema and urges Congress not only to consider this important legislation but also include it in the upcoming budget reconciliation package, along with a repeal of the Cadillac and medical device taxes.

The Workforce of Tomorrow

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The incoming Trump administration has placed a high value on the need to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. With more than 12 million manufacturing workers in the United States, accounting for 9 percent of the workforce, it is clear to see why. These jobs are the backbone of our economy.

However, to keep jobs in the United States, we must address the fundamental reality that there is a skills gap in manufacturing that is widening each year: the skills workers have are not always the skills that are in demand. Current projections forecast nearly 2 million jobs will remain unfilled over the next 10 years due to the skills gap. Read More

Immigration Reform to Strengthen Manufacturing and Competitiveness

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

 

As the nation moves forward under new leadership, one of the greatest challenges we continue to face is finding a way to manage and improve the broken immigration system.

From frustrations about security at the southern border to a legal immigration system that is unresponsive to employer needs, both Democrats and Republicans agree the immigration system is not functional. The system as it stands today frustrates those who come in contact with a sprawling bureaucracy and cumbersome process that appears accountable to no one.

Reform of the immigration system is not a simple exercise. Each change, even small changes in the regulatory sphere, can affect thousands of manufacturing employees and cost millions of dollars. Careful consideration must be made to address the apprehensions of many Americans, such as border security.

We need to create a workable system for lesser skilled immigrants that allows workers to be in the United States when there is demand and lets us know who is here.

Our system for higher skilled immigrants deserves reform, too. The current system is too limited and inflexible and actually sends innovation and jobs overseas. We are driving out foreign-born talent, often educated in the United States, who then compete against us instead of working with us. They are moving abroad to work, manufacture and innovate, when their talents could be put to use here to grow our economy and create new jobs.

Congress and the next administration have an obligation to holistically tackle this public policy challenge. Manufacturers believe that immigration reform must be revisited in 2017.

Immigrants, at all skill levels, come to this country because they want to work. We are a country built by immigrants and a nation where immigrants thrive more than anywhere in the world. We need not only to ensure that we are keeping threats to the Unites States out, but also bringing skills, talents and ambition that will help this country grow. As manufacturers have laid our in our “Competing to Win” immigration blueprint, we must do the following:

  • Ensure manufactures’ reliable access to talent at all skill levels.
  • Offer career opportunities to keep talent onshore.
  • Address the undocumented worker population in a practical, moral and respectful way.
  • Advance a rigorous and fair employment verification system.
  • Improve safety and security at the border in a workable way that allows for the free trade of goods.

Comprehensive reform can strengthen our economy and country. We should not turn our back on the opportunity for stability and security.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

 

Competing to Win: How to Accelerate Manufacturing Innovation

By | Innovation, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

Autonomous vehicles. Smart phones. Lifesaving medicines. All are made possible by the innovation of manufacturers. Technology is transforming the manufacturing industry, and the manufacturing industry is transforming our world.

Manufacturers in the United States perform more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development (R&D) in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector, changing our society and helping Americans live better lives. But our continued progress is not guaranteed. We need our leaders to embrace policies that encourage innovation—not stand in its way—because a country that can’t invent can’t lead.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has laid manufacturers’ technology policy priorities in a new blueprint, as part of our “Competing to Win” agenda:

  • Enable a regulatory and legislative climate that creates the conditions for discovering the next great life-changing inventions.
  • Secure those inventions by protecting the intellectual property rights of manufacturers.
  • Partner with the industry in the area of cybersecurity but not through the creation of a new and unnecessary regulatory regime.
  • Encourage the growth of connected technology when they consider updating our telecommunications laws.

The technologies embraced by manufacturers in the 21st century are improving business models, transforming customer relationships and re-inventing the world. Policymakers in Washington now must decide whether they will accelerate, or stand in the way, of a new economy that innovates and works better for everyone.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

Manufacturers’ Prescription for Health Care

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

After the economy and jobs, Americans rate health care as their top public policy concern. And the majority of Americans (54 percent) disapprove of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the Pew Research Center.

No one understands the frustrations of our health care system quite like manufacturers. In the National Association of Manufacturers most recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, rising health care and insurance costs ranked as a top business challenge among NAM members (74.8 percent), slightly ahead of an unfavorable business climate (73.6 percent). There are a host of factors that lead to this frustration, and many feel trapped in a problem that is of the government’s making.

Americans deserve better than this. We are a nation that prides itself on first-class, best-in-the-world medical care. Our institutions, public and private, continue to lead the world on patient care, lifesaving treatments and medical research. But we have to keep working to control or lower the cost of coverage through reasonable approaches.

So manufacturers, through our “Competing to Win” agenda and health care policy blueprint, are calling on the next Congress and administration to find solutions that will successfully eliminate the costliest and most problematic aspects of the ACA:

  • The 40 percent tax on employee benefits and other mandated taxes
  • Onerous administrative requirements
  • Upward pressure on medical liability costs

Manufacturers also believe reform should have some key goals:

  • Encourage flexibility and data sharing
  • Allow for new innovations in coverage options rather than locking in one model
  • Provide consumers more information to make better choices

Manufacturers recognize that providing health care coverage is a necessity to remain competitive in attracting talent and maintaining a healthy, stable workforce. It’s what is right for employees.

Ninety-eight percent of manufacturers offer health insurance to employees, and when asked about how they might react to increasing costs for offering health care in an NAM survey of members, only 1.6 percent planned to stop providing coverage.

Without action from our leaders, manufacturers have innovated with their own solutions to improve health care:

  • Opting for new plans and payment arrangements
  • Bringing medical care, pharmacy services and wellness programs on-site or near-site
  • Focusing on addressing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and asthma

If President-elect Donald Trump and the next Congress follow manufacturers’ lead, our people and our economy will be healthier for it.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

Manufacturers: President-Elect Trump, Let’s Build to Win

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is releasing in-depth Competing to Win policy papers to equip Congress and the Trump administration with blueprints for delivering on manufacturers’ priorities. Today’s release is the first in the series and focuses on transportation and infrastructure. For more on the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition, follow @ShopfloorNAM.

Despite the clear benefits of investing in our nation’s infrastructure, the United States has spent less and less over the past decades on our roads and bridges, ports and waterways and public transit—down from about 3.8 percent of GDP in 1970 to 1.5 percent in 2012.

As most people know, this is not a new problem, but it is one that is setting manufacturers back. We are hopeful, though, as President-elect Donald Trump has said, “We are going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

We agree with the president-elect, and we join him in calling on our policymakers to join us in our effort to build to win.

In October, the NAM released a bold infrastructure initiative, “Building to Win,” that outlines not only the biggest challenges, but also funding and financing options to tackle infrastructure investment that will accomplish projects of national and regional significance. It’s part of our larger “Competing to Win” agenda that we have shared with the president-elect and his team.

  • A serious infrastructure package should include a reliable, user-based, long-term funding stream for the Highway Trust Fund so that families, drivers and manufacturers can have the safe, efficient highways they need.
  • While roads, bridges and other traditional infrastructure projects require immediate investment, the NAM also urged Congress and the next administration to upgrade and modernize our water, broadband and energy infrastructure using a combination of innovative reforms and tools—from publicprivate partnerships to more efficient permitting.

We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past or neglect a chance to change the status quo. This is a generational opportunity to revitalize our infrastructure and reform government policies that have allowed it to languish into a state of disrepair and chronic underinvestment.

This will not only strengthen manufacturing but our economy overall. So join the NAM’s online petition calling for fixing America’s infrastructure.

To view the blueprint, click here.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

Discouraging Innovation at State or Federal Levels Is Not the Answer

By | Innovation, intellectual property, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

For manufacturers and all innovators in the United States, the protection of intellectual property (IP), including trade secrets, helps drive not only success but also a continuous cycle of innovation. As such, the United States has historically upheld a very strong record of protecting IP through both federal and state laws. After all, if the government can’t ensure sufficient protections, all incentive is lost in spending billions of dollars on research and development (R&D) only to have the resulting product stolen or devalued. Read More

Senate Passes Key Infrastructure Legislation; NAM Urges for Timely House Passage

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today, the Senate voted 95 to 3 to approve essential  infrastructure legislation, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) (S. 2848). The bill includes authorizations for key civil works missions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including inland waterway navigation and port dredging—infrastructure investments that are vital to manufacturers and our competitiveness. The NAM sent a key-vote letter to the Senate on this measure.

The nations deepwater ports and inland waterways help keep transportation costs competitive and are an important means of transport for manufacturers and other industrial shippers. The waterways in particular move products and commodities now valued at $232 billion annually, but unfortunately, more than half of the inland waterways lock chambers have exceeded their 50-year design life. Our nation needs a modern infrastructure that manufacturers can depend on to remain competitive.

Too frequently, Congress has failed to pass water infrastructure legislation for periods as long as seven years, leaving critical projects waiting for a green light from Congress. Manufacturers are encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral support in Congress to return to a regular two-year WRDA process and to get WRDA done this year. On September 13, 141 members of the House sent a letter urging House leadership take up and pass the House version of WRDA (H.R. 5303) this September, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on potential water infrastructure projects that could be included in the bill. Manufacturers urge the House to immediately take up H.R. 5303.

Manufacturers are optimistic that Congress will continue to build on recent infrastructure accomplishments, such as the FAST Act and WRRDA 2014, to address the national backlog of infrastructure projects that threaten American competitiveness.

Key Workforce Development Bill Passes House; Now Time for Senate Vote

By | Human Resources, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today the House approved H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (aka Perkins Act), sponsored by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA). The Perkins Act aims to increase the quality of technical education through promotions of Career and Technical Education programs at the high school and college levels.

The NAM sent a key-vote letter to support this reauthorization, which updated past efforts to match the needs of employers and focus on in-demand occupations. It strengthens the use of industry-recognized credentials in educational programs to align with employers’ needs, putting it in harmony with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It also promotes work-based learning and allows funds to be used toward the purchase of needed manufacturing equipment as well as certification exams upon completion of training.

The NAM led a significant push by manufacturers to see this legislation move forward. A support letter was signed by nearly 500 member companies, affiliate organizations and other supporters showing the strong base of approval for this important legislation. In addition, many manufacturers and friends of manufacturing reached out directly to their members urging support.

The ability of manufacturers to succeed in the highly competitive global marketplace depends on access to an educated, diverse, inclusive, flexible and knowledge-based workforce. American employees, in turn, need the education and skills to participate in a high-performance workforce for the robust and dynamic U.S. manufacturing economy. Skills gap surveys conducted by the NAM consistently underscore how a vast majority of American manufacturers are facing a serious shortage of qualified employees, which is taking an increasingly negative toll on American manufacturers’ ability to be innovative and productive. Reauthorization of the Perkins Act is a strong step toward addressing that gap.

The NAM looks forward to working with the Senate in the coming weeks to ensure that the Perkins Act is reauthorized before the end of the year.

California’s Manufacturers Deserve Strong IP Protections

By | Innovation, intellectual property, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

From cutting-edge advances in information technology, energy-efficiency and lifesaving medical devices and medicines, California’s manufacturers are global leaders in innovation.

At the forefront of innovation is research and development (R&D). The manufacturing industry in California spent $81.7 billion on R&D in 2012—ranking it first nationally. From years of R&D stems manufacturers’ trade secrets and proprietary intellectual property (IP), which is the lifeblood of the industry and the key to creating new consumer goods and generating more effective and efficient technologies. Therefore, there is nothing more critical to California’s manufacturers than the guarantee that their IP will be protected.

Unfortunately, recently introduced legislation would require manufacturers in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotech-related industries to disclose proprietary operational information and data. The bill’s sponsors likely had the best intentions in mind, as it is important that we work to reduce our nation’s health care costs and access. However, this legislation would have the opposite effect. Mandating manufacturers of medical devices and medicines to turn over sensitive data, such as the cost of R&D, would have no impact on controlling costs, but would severely hamper their ability to compete.

The legislation singles out one industry, but devalues the work of all innovators and would send a chilling effect across the manufacturing industry. R&D is risky and expensive, but the rewards are tremendous and should not be desensitized. In California alone, total output from manufacturing was $255.53 billion in 2014, employing 1,271,000 Californians. Manufacturers are the lead drivers of innovation, creating economic growth and jobs. Legislators in California must understand how critical strong IP protections are to protecting the industry and the state’s economy.