Small Business

Spending Bill: No Czars, But Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Searching for the word “manufacturing” in Thursday’s House floor debate on H.R. 1473, the continuing resolution, that passed by a vote of 260-167, we find first the section that eliminates funding for White House “czars.”

Sec. 2262. None of the funds made available by this division may be used to pay the salaries and expenses for the following positions:

(1) Director, White House Office of Health Reform.

(2) Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

(3) Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy.

(4) White House Director of Urban Affairs.

The Detroit Free Press observes, “In the case of the car czar — actually the senior advisor to the secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and senior counselor for manufacturing policy — it hardly matters: Ron Bloom, who held the job, moved to the National Economic Council earlier this year, so it’s vacant.”

On another topic, Rep. Chakah Fattah (D-PA) complimented Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who chairs the Commerce, Science, Justice activities in the continuing resolution. From Congressinal Record, Page H2742:

Notwithstanding the very challenging fiscal circumstances, Chairman Wolf has worked towards a set of priorities that will help move our country forward, and I thank him for working with me on a bipartisan basis.

I want to point out our highest priority within that section of the Commerce Department, which is that of the Manufacturing and Extension Partnerships, which will see an increase above the 2010 enacted and also the Senate amendment, or H.R. 1. I am very pleased about that.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) operates out of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, working with state partnerships to provide business planning services and technical advice to small businesses. (continue reading…)

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Circumnetting the National Association of Manufacturers

  • In Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad will moderate a forum on manufacturing for Republican presidential can

    Gov. Terry Branstad

    didates in Pella on Nov. 1. The National Association of Manufacturers and Vermeer Corp. are sponsoring the forum, which will be held at Vermeer’s headquarters. (NAM news release.)
    Mary Andringa is president of Vermeer and chairman of the board of the National Association of Manufacturers. From IowaPolitics.com:

“Manufacturing is vital to the American economy, and we expect issues that affect manufacturers – from tax reform to energy security to job growth – to play a central role in the presidential election,” Andringa said. “We look forward to welcoming the candidates to Vermeer and learning about their visions for keeping manufacturing in America strong.”

  • There’s more to the McClatchy Newspapers’ article than the shocking headline would let on, “No easy solutions for U.S. deficit.” (Next: “Economy poses problems.”) The story analyzes the tax elements of the deficit-reduction debate, i.e., when is a loophole really a special-interest tax break versus sound economic policy. And how is that both House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and President Obama can both support a top corporate tax rate of 25 percent?

“‘It’s easy for business in general to rally around a 25 percent rate, or a lower rate, but when you get to (tax) base broadening, that’s where it’s going to be very tricky,’ said Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax policy for the influential National Association of Manufacturers.”

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Repeal It Already: The Onerous 1099 Filing Requirement

The U.S. Senate is expected this afternoon to take up H.R. 4, the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act, which is a very long title for the bill to repeal the ridiculous filing requirement included in last year’s health care bill.

The National Association of Manufacturers last week sent Senators a “Key Vote” letter urging their support for an amendment by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) that mirrors H.R. 4. From the NAM letter:

The Johanns amendment would repeal expanded reporting requirements under Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148). Section 9006 requires businesses to file an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form 1099 for all purchases of property and services in excess of $600. Previously, businesses were required to report only purchases of service and only from non-corporate entities. The new language essentially requires 1099 reporting for all transactions in excess of $600.

This reporting requirement is extremely onerous — especially for small manufacturers. The NAM supports efforts to ensure tax compliance, but not at the expense of manufacturers that are following the law.

The House passed H.R. 4 on March 3 by a vote of 314-112. The Senate has already cast this vote, more or less, when Senators voted 81-17 in early February to pass an amendment sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to S. 223, the FAA reauthorization bill.

So the clear majority is there for fixing this ill-conceived, anti-small-business provision in the health care law. Let’s pass this bill and send it to the President.

UPDATE (1:14 p.m.): The bill has passed, 87-12. We’ll post the roll call vote once it’s available. (UPDATE II: And here it is.)

The bill now goes to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

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Hours of Service Rules Would Put Brakes on Trucking, Manufacturers, the Economy

The American Trucking Associations rounds up the critical reaction from business,  transportation, law enforcement and other groups to the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s proposed rules of service for over-the-road trucking.

From “Variety of Groups Pan FMCSA’s Proposed Hours-of-Service Rule,” a selection:

Several of the proposed changes will create more difficulty for roadside inspectors and law enforcement officers to verify compliance . . . we believe the prudent course of action at this point would be to retain the current rules . . .” – Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Executive Director Stephen A. Keppler.

“The proposed rule is not supported by existing safety and health data. . . . Advocacy recommends that FMCSA consider retaining its current regulations while conducting additional research to determine whether changing the current rules will meet the agency’s stated objective of improving safety, enhancing driver health and providing flexibility. . . The proposed rule would reduce flexibility and could actually impede safety and driver health.” –  U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.

“. . . the reality that the current hours-of-service rules have been functioning well and safely since they were made effective in 2004 seems to argue that it is ill-considered and inappropriate to propose such complex changes to the current hours-of-service rules.” – Gregg Dal Ponte, administrator, Motor Carrier Transportation Division, Oregon DOT. (continue reading…)

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Industries Develop in ‘Clusters’; Workforce Training Should Align

President Obama talked persuasively about the importance of workforce training during the White House’s “Winning the Future” forum in Cleveland Tuesday. His remarks came in response to a comment from Roy in Temecula, Calif., which we take to be Roy Paulson of Paulson Manufacturing, a manufacturer of safety equipment and a member of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Board of Directors. From the transcript:

MS. [Sarah] BERNARD: We had a lot of questions come in about — or comments and thoughts about preparing the next-generation workforce. Roy in Temeculah, California, noted: The economy develops in pockets and clusters. Why don’t we match this with our workforce development for the best results? We all know that people have many different jobs over their lifetime, and we need to retrain where and when it’s needed — keep it simple, buy it quickly, keep it local. The local aspect allows easy access for the people that need the training, and it’s tailored to the local environment and conditions.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the answer is in the question. I think that question is spot on. What you find as you travel around the country is that there’s certain regions that are starting to gain expertise in biotech, or they’re starting to gain expertise in advanced battery manufacturing, or they’re starting to gain expertise in a particular industry which requires a particular skill set. And if we can get businesses to partner with local community colleges or local universities and have them help to design the training process for the jobs that already exist, it’s a win-win.

For the businesses, it means that all their workforce training costs are absorbed somewhere else, which is obviously good for their bottom line.

For the students, what it means is that if you actually go through this program, you know that there’s going to be a job at the end of the day because the employers have actually helped to design the program. And so Skills for America’s Future is a program that we’ve been trying to implement that gets those partnerships between businesses and colleges and universities. (continue reading…)

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President Names Intel’s CEO to Jobs Council

The Oregonian has the news today, “Intel and Obama embrace in Hillsboro today over shared priorities“:

President Barack Obama and Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini share a stage for the first time today when the president arrives in Hillsboro to tout the chip maker’s education initiatives and investment in domestic manufacturing.

After a difficult courtship, the Democratic president and Republican CEO have found common ground on innovation and education. Obama this morning will appoint Otellini to the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, adding a top-tier name from the tech industry to a new group charged with boosting U.S. economic performance.

The appointment, and today’s meeting in Hillsboro, is the fruit of more assertive lobbying by the high-tech industry and Obama’s need to display closer ties to business.

News reports highlight critical comments Otellini has made about the Administration’s economic policies, views that represent many of those in manufacturing.

From The Hill, “White House reaches out to Intel critic who blasted job policies“:

Asked during an interview in August what advice he would give the president on jobs, Otellini said: 

“The most important thing the current administration can do is remove the number of variables out there. There are so many things where business leaders can’t predict what’s going to happen. Businesses don’t like uncertainty. When you start reducing the variables and putting predictability into the system, you can now make informed decisions.”

 The President’s Council is chaired by Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, and Otellini becomes the second person named to the panel. We trust that the President’s upcoming appointments will include more manufacturers and representatives from small business.

More …

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In the President’s Budget: These Tax Increases Look Familiar

We read somewhere that President Obama had started reaching reaching out to business, recognizing  that you can’t have employees without employers, jobs without job creators. But the outstretched hand gets pulled back in the budget released today, at least on taxes.

From AP, “Obama budget resurrects rejected tax increases“:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s budget proposal resurrects a series of tax increases that were largely ignored by Congress when Democrats controlled both chambers. Republicans, who now control the House, are signaling they will be even less receptive.

The plan unveiled Monday includes tax increases for oil, gas and coal producers, investment managers and U.S.-based multinational corporations. The plan would allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012 for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000. Wealthy taxpayers would have their itemized deductions limited, including deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.

We had this alternative headline in mind: “Obama budget message to business: ‘Psych!’”

And as stated many, many times during the lame-duck session, a majority of small manufacturers files as individuals under the tax code, meaning the proposed increases in the top bracket would in fact be a tax increase on small business. See our Nov. 16, 2010, post, “The Realities of Tax Increases on Small Business, Manufacturers.”

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President Obama at the Chamber

Stipulated: President Obama’s address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a good thing, showing the President’s recognition that you can have employees with employers. Good luck to President Obama and the Chamber both on a successful event.

We one wonders which storyline will predominate in media reports about President Obama’s address this morning to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We speculate:

  • President continues to woo big business.
  • Business, President reach wary accord.
  • In Chamber speech, President promotes exports, “new energy” economy to create jobs. Briefly mentions free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama.
  • President renews call for lower, simpler corporate taxation.
  • De facto drilling moratorium continues to hamper job growth, Chamber president tells Obama.
  • Presidential motorcade travels two blocks to U.S. Chamber to avoid protesters.
  • Green Bay Packer analogies spoil speech’s impact, irk Steelers’ fans.
  • President defends economy-crushing greenhouse gas regulations, which EPA will impose on job creators despite having no statutory basis to do so and vehement opposition from policymaking branch of government, Congress, but the rules will spur new technologies, the President argues to restive audience of business owners who contemplate layoffs in response.
  • Greenhouse gas regulations left unmentioned in President’s address to business.

AP’s preview indicates the odds-on favorite theme: “WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama continues his efforts to make peace with big business Monday with a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

Big business, big business, big business. That’s a tired and inaccurate throw-away description. Sure, the Chamber isn’t the NFIB, but still: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. More than 96% of U.S. Chamber members are small businesses with 100 employees or fewer.”

One can watch the President’s address at the Chamber website.

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Good Calls from OSHA on Rules Affecting Manufacturers, But …

Kevin Bogardus at The Hill reports on the reaction to the recent decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its proposed re-interpretation of occupational noise standards and the rule to require a column report possible muskuloskeletal injuries (and camel’s noise back into the tent of ergonomic rules). From “Labor unions uneasy as OSHA withdraws proposed rules“:

“We hope that these first two steps are a signal to the business community and employers in general that OSHA will ‘stop, look and listen,’” said Joe Trauger, vice president of human resources policy for the National Association of Manufacturers.

But Trauger said the actions by OSHA are not enough since other proposed rules are still being readied that could burden business. He pointed to a regulation being developed by the agency that would have employers find and fix their own workplace hazards under what will be called an injury and illness prevention plan.

Trauger said he hoped OSHA would work with business groups to mitigate their concerns. He said the administration may be taking a different tack on regulations to help create more jobs.

“Perhaps the administration has looked at the first two years and realized that the job growth is not as robust as they hoped and that a different approach is warranted,” Trauger said.

See also Washington Post, “Regulators, industry at odds on repetitive-motion injuries.”

(continue reading…)

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NAM Testimony: Trade Agreements Mean Manufacturing Jobs

Roy Paulson, President of Paulson Manufacturing Corporation, is testifying today on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers before the House Ways and Means Committee, “Hearing on the Pending Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and the Creation of U.S. Jobs.” 

His prepared statement (available here) talks about the reality of trade and tariffs and how enactment of free trade agreements would expand opportunities for manufacturers and small business. Excerpt:

Take a moment and think of the opportunity these agreements will present to the small business community here in the United States. I have had success selling such varied items as patented eye care products on South Korean cable television to Electrical Safety equipment in Colombia. The security products sold to Panama are a continuing source of repeat business, and safety equipment with a 6 percent duty that will be eliminated will be a viable item as the canal is widened over many years. In addition to my own sales, I encourage other manufactures to sell their products in these countries and freely supply my contacts and experience gained from my years of effort.

In all three countries with pending Free Trade Agreements the reduction in tariffs will have a direct impact on sales of our products. I just spoke to my Korean contact, Bryan Kim, and he is extremely excited about the 8 percent tariff being removed immediately because now he is in a stronger competitive position and the market immediately becomes broader allowing sales into main stream applications. He also commented that the Korean consumer’s perception of US products is one of quality and that the Made in the USA label is very important. He went on further to say that the price is critical and import duties are generally paid by the importer along with the freight charges. Eliminating the eight percent tariff will have a direct and immediate benefit and increased sales.

Colombia is truly a special case in South America. The Free Trade Agreement has been sold to the people as tremendous improvement and everyone is waiting for this to occur. My customers have been paying 20 percent tariffs on hundreds of thousands of dollars of my imported products and this has reduced the range of items that they could purchase from me. In other words, from my broad product offering, only the items that they could not purchase from Europe, Brazil or China were being brought in from the USA. After the agreement we can all begin to enjoy a more competitive environment for my full product range.

Other prepared statements:

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