Administration’s Climate Plan to UN a Reminder of What’s at Stake for Manufacturers

The Administration’s submission of its Climate Change Plan to the United Nations today is a reminder of the complex nature of global greenhouse gas (GHG) politics, economics and realities, and what is at stake for the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. Manufacturers want a strong international agreement that includes binding commitments from all major emitting nations.

First, as is graphically represented on Page One of the Plan, the United States is already leading the world in reducing GHG emissions. Since 2005, no country has reduced its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than the United States—nearly 700 million tons of C02 or a reduction of close to 12 percent. U.S. manufacturers are leading the way, producing more efficient and lower emitting cars, trucks and machines; creating new and innovative products to increase the energy efficiency of houses, buildings and factors; and unlocking new technologies to generate more power with fewer emissions. Since 2005, carbon emissions from manufacturers and other industrial facilities have fallen by more than 10 percent. This progress will continue, as manufacturers are driven by a commitment to environmental sustainability and recognition that reducing emissions is good for the bottom line—more efficient factories have fewer emissions and lower costs.  (continue reading…)

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Spring Showers Bring Highway Construction Season

As the calendar page turns to spring and the snowy parts of our nation defrost, attention turns to the upcoming highway and infrastructure construction season. Too long stitched together by a series of short term funding patches or short term reauthorizations, our nation’s infrastructure is in need of a long term solution to provide consistent funding for much needed upgrades and repairs to our country’s crumbling infrastructure. (continue reading…)

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President Supports NLRB’s Ambush Election Rule

It comes as no surprise that, today, the President vetoed Congress’ disapproval of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) “Ambush” Election Rule, finalized by the Board late last year and which goes into effect on April 14.

In the Memorandum accompanying the pocket veto (a veto occurring while Congress is adjourned), the President states that Congress’s Resolution of Disapproval would “block modest, but overdue reforms to simplify and streamline private sector union elections.” The word “streamline,” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “to make simpler or more efficient.” However, when looking at the NLRB’s own data, I am confused as to what needs to be “made simpler or more efficient.”  Currently, in over 95 percent of election petitions filed, a union election is held in 60 days or less.  That is two months, which when you compare to our political campaign cycles, is merely a blink of an eye.  So what exactly needs to be streamlined with this process? (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – March 30, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

As we have seen in past weeks, economic data continue to reflect dampened activity in the early months of 2015 as a result of a number of significant headwinds. These challenges range from weak economic growth abroad, to a significantly strengthened U.S. dollar, to the sharp drop in crude oil prices. Weather and the West Coast ports slowdown have also been relevant factors in some of the softness that we have seen in the reports released since December. As a result, the first quarter is likely to grow around 1.8 percent. This would be less than the 2.2 percent growth rate in real GDP seen during the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, I am predicting 2.8 percent growth in real GDP in 2015, reflecting a slight deceleration in my outlook for the year. The expectation is that we will see some rebounds moving forward, with manufacturers continuing to be more upbeat about the coming months, even with some challenges likely to continue. (continue reading…)

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Real GDP Grew 2.2 Percent in the Fourth Quarter, Consistent with its Earlier Estimate

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that real GDP grew 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter.  As such, headline growth did not change in this second revision from its earlier estimate, released one month ago. The U.S. economy expanded 2.4 percent in 2014, only slightly better than the 2.3 percent and 2.2 percent rates seen in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Of course, that somewhat understates the strength of the economy mid-year, when real GDP growth averaged a rather robust 4.8 percent in the second and third quarters. (continue reading…)

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Lesser-Skilled Workers are an Essential Part of Immigration Reform

Improving border security is an essential part of immigration reform for the United States. Our current system incentivizes illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. while providing few opportunities for them to engage in the legal immigration system. As a matter of national security we need to know who is coming into our country and if they pose a threat. Creating a truly functional immigration program for lesser-skilled workers is the most effective way to achieve this important goal. We need to take away the incentive to come to and stay in the United States illegally and the best way to do that is to create a legal framework to manage it. By creating a legal system, we can be assured we know exactly who is here as well as allow temporary workers to return to their native country instead of being forced to live in the shadows for years on end. Under the current system, or lack of one, workers are incentivized to obtain false documents and unable to return home for fear that they will not be able to get back to in the US. (continue reading…)

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Kansas City Fed: Reduced Manufacturing Activity in March

The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity declined in March, contracting for the first time in 12 months. The composite index of general business conditions declined from 1 in February to -4 in March. Perhaps more worrisome, the decline in new orders accelerated (down from -10 to -20), falling for the third straight month. The sample comments provide clues about why this is the case, with respondents noting a number of headwinds impacting their demand. These include snowstorms, reduced crude oil prices, the stronger U.S. dollar and the West Coast ports slowdown. (continue reading…)

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Purported TPP Investment Text Confirms Pro-Rule of Law and Transparent Processes, but Raises Questions about Some TPP Countries’ Commitment to Fairness and the Rule of Law

Last night, WikiLeaks put out what it claims is the draft of the investment text being negotiated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

For manufacturers in the United States, many of whom use foreign investment to spur U.S. exports and make overseas sales, the text looks familiar because it is substantially based on the highly detailed U.S. model investment negotiating text that has been publicly available on both the websites of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of States since the Obama Administration completed its multi-year review of the investment text in April 2012. That review, which was public and sought input from stakeholders throughout the United States, resulted in a strong investment negotiating document that seeks a more level playing field for our nation’s manufacturers and other job-creators in this country. (continue reading…)

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Death and Taxes – Maybe Not So Certain Any Longer

It’s long been said that the only two things certain in life is death and taxes. Well, for too many family owned businesses this certainty is compounded by the long reviled death tax which is a burden to all successful family-owned businesses. That’s why the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) applauds Chairman Ryan and the House Committee on Ways and Means for their prompt consideration of H.R. 1105 “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015”. The bill introduced by Representatives Brady (R-TX) and Bishop (D-GA) issues would finally, fully repeal the death tax. (continue reading…)

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Government Must Facilitate Internet of Things Growth

Industry leaders, academics, and think tanks have all recognized that the Internet of Things is a powerful technology trend that has the ability to transform manufacturing. Recent activity by leaders in Congress and the Administration have sent mixed signals to business that they too are serious about facilitating the growth of IoT in the United States. The NAM is calling on government to be a partner and not a roadblock in the widespread deployment of IoT. (continue reading…)

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