Today we heard from President Obama about his plan to reorganize several federal agencies – many of which are critical to manufacturers and their ability to create and retain jobs.
Changes would include combining the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency into a single department in an effort to improve government efficiency and to help promote business. The key question in reviewing this proposal is will it help manufacturers compete, export, invest and create jobs?
Any changes that are considered must focus on improving intellectual property protection, opening markets for exports, improving market access, and more. Additionally, while manufacturers have done well in leaning their processes to improve their competitiveness and would vigorously support the federal government doing the same in this difficult debt and deficit environment, the agencies affected must continue to have the necessary resources to meet their missions.
If the streamlining and efficiency undertaken in this proposed combination of agencies will mean that manufacturers will have less intellectual property protection, for example, it would be a devastating mistake. If, on the other hand, this leaning process will mean doing more with less, it would be a great step forward.
As policymakers respond to the President’s proposals today, we are hopeful that the discussion centers on the key question for manufacturers – will they be better able to compete, export, invest and create jobs as a result? With a 20 percent cost disadvantage already, manufacturers will deeply care about the impact these proposals will have on their ability to compete.
Aric Newhouse is senior vice president for policy and government relations, National Association of Manufacturers.