economic stimulus Archives - Shopfloor

Manufacturers Discuss Economic and Policy Concerns at NAM Economic Forum Hosted By Boeing

By | Economy | No Comments

Yesterday, the NAM co-hosted an Economic Forum at the Boeing Company headquarters in Chicago. This forum was part an ongoing effort to hold discussions with senior-level executives and economists around the country to listen and discuss the current state of the economic and political landscape.

The Economic Forum in Chicago was hosted by Greg Smith, the Chief Financial Officer of Boeing, who highlighted the importance of manufacturing and exports for Boeing. Business at Boeing continues to grow and the company currently has a record order backlog.

Economists discuss manufacturing and the economy during a forum at the Boeing Company

Boeing is the largest commercial airplane manufacturer by plane output. Yet, aerospace is becoming increasingly more competitive globally and the largest challenges in the short-term stem from shrinking spending levels on defense and the prospects of devastating across-the-board federal spending cuts – including cuts to civil government agencies which will affect manufacturers from every sector.

The issue of the automatic spending cuts came up at multiple points during the discussion today. William Strauss, a senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, noted the slow pace of growth in the economy that we have experienced since the end of the Great Recession. He anticipates growth of around 2.5 percent this year. While this is better than in 2012, it is modest at best.  He said repeatedly we are missing a significant opportunity to grow faster based on the “slack” in the economy created from the 2008-09 downturn – opportunities that could be realized through more agile and manufacturing-friendly policy implementation.

The other experts on the economic panel made up of Peter Hamilton, Chief Financial Officer, Brunswick; Hui Jiang, Business Analytics and Strategy Director, Navistar; and Chad Moutray, NAM Chief Economist tended to concur with this assessment.  Moutray presented compelling data that showed rapid expansion in manufacturing in the first quarter of 2012, but a serious decline for the remainder of the year.  Much of the cooling of manufacturing growth, Moutray said, was attributable to the uncertainty about the direction of economic and tax policies in Washington. Read More

From Michigan, the Plea: More Jobs, Fewer Programs

By | Economy, Labor Unions, Taxation | No Comments

With President Obama in Michigan today, let’s also take a look at editorials in the Detroit newspapers:

Detroit News, “Obama’s stimulus plan is not working“:

Instead of more spending, Obama and Congress should turn to the only proven stimulus strategy: cutting taxes. Corporate and individual tax rates should be cut substantially, at all income levels, and the administration should signal that there will be no new taxes for anyone. Taxpayers allowed to keep more of their own money would spread it around the economy and trigger a broad and sustainable rebound.

The president should signal that his No. 1 priority is reviving the economy and set aside those pieces of his agenda — carbon cap-and-trade and health care reform specifically — that carry the serious risk of killing jobs and raising the costs of goods and services.

Detroit Free Press, “Above all, Mr. President, Michigan needs promise of jobs“:

So President Barack Obama makes his first return to Michigan since the 2008 election and plans to put on a big push for community colleges and the kind of training they offer.

Not a bad idea on its face. But Michigan has emphasized job retraining for months, if not years now — and yet people keep losing their jobs, even in supposedly hot fields such as health care.

Seems that Obama might do better to focus on encouraging folks here about how his policies — the stimulus package, in particular — are going to actually put people back to work.

This skepticism from Michigan provides political context, too, helping to explain the low-key, no-news reception the White House gave the union leaders yesterday. (See “Card Check: What a Disappointing Meeting for Labor.”) Perhaps President realized that a exuberant, arms-raised photo-op with the heads of the SEIU or the AFL-CIO would signal to the public that creating jobs was not an Administration priority — satisfying a political constituency was. So the union bosses were kept out of the public eye.

It looks like the White House asked for some back-up too. House Majority Leader Hoyer’s office just released a statement, “Economic Recovery on Track”:

Even before passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama cautioned Americans that economic recovery would take time. Since passage of the Recovery Act, the pace of job loss has eased substantially and the economy is no longer in a freefall. While there is still significant work to be done to restore our economy and bring relief to American families, economic experts agree that the recovery is working as designed and on track to meet its goals. Nearly a quarter of the recovery funds have been obligated in under a quarter of the days allotted.

On track…

(Hat tip for the Detroit editorials: Glenn Reynolds)


NAM’s John Engler on the Stumbling Stimulus, Export Controls

By | Economy, Energy, Global Warming, Infrastructure, Taxation, Trade | No Comments

John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, appeared this morning on CNBC to discuss the economic stimulus, infrastructure and tomorrow’s hearing on the Export Administration Act.

The hearing is by the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, “The Export Administration Act: A Review of Outstanding Policy Considerations.” Details.



By | Economy, Infrastructure | No Comments

Many manufacturers and NAM member companies have been disappointed by the slow and weak impact the stimulus measure — which the NAM supported — has had on the economy. (See this post.) The goal was both immediate stimulus (a la shovel-ready) AND dollars spent on investments that would strengthen U.S. competitiveness, especially infrastructure.

Now MSNBC provides some numbers that affirm the manufacturers’ dissatisfaction:

Of the $478 billion in direct spending (the rest is mostly tax cuts), the Congressional Budget Office figures only about $150 billion will be available this year.

Of that money, some agencies have done at lot better than others at writing checks. The Social Security Administration — which knows a thing or two about writing checks — has spent all $13 billion of its stimulus budget for this year. About three-quarters of the $21.5 billion allocated to Health and Human Services has been spent. And the Agriculture Department has processed about two-thirds of the $3.2 billion it has available this year.

But it seems that other agencies are having a harder time getting the money out the door. As of mid-June, for example, spending by the Transportation Deptartment for so-called “shovel ready” projects represented barely 2 percent of available funds. The EPA has barely touched its $4.4 billion in stimulus spending. Same for the Defense Department.

So spending with minimal stimulus and little if anything to enhance U.S. competitiveness. Sure. Bring on Stimulus II!

(Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg, who writes today on the primacy of pork.)


By | Economy, General, Infrastructure | No Comments

The National Association of Manufacturers supported the stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, believing it would spur renewed economic growth while addressing needed infrastructure programs.

Many manufacturers we talk to have been disappointed. Dollars for infrastructure seem slower to flow into the economy than expected, and much of the federal spending has gone to help states prop up their budgets and fund social programs. You can argue the merits, but stimulus it’s not.

So Christina Hoff Sommers appears to be onto something when she writes about the skewing of the bill toward non-manufacturing, non-construction, non-infrastructure jobs. Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute most known for her book, The War Against Boys. The politics of feminism falls outside our commentary bailiwick, but it’s hard to disagree with the conditions she describes in a new Weekly Standard article, “No Country for Burly Men“:

Men are bearing the brunt of the current economic crisis because they predominate in manufacturing and construction, the hardest-hit sectors, which have lost more than 3 million jobs since December 2007. Women, by contrast, are a majority in recession-resistant fields such as education and health care, which gained 588,000 jobs during the same period. Rescuing hundreds of thousands of unemployed crane operators, welders, production line managers, and machine setters was never going to be easy. But the concerted opposition of several powerful women’s groups has made it all but impossible

Again, we don’t want to venture into the gender wars, but something has gone awry with the stimulus component of the stimulus bill. In today’s Washington Post, there’s a poll story, “Confidence in Stimulus Plan Ebbs, Poll Finds“:

Barely half of Americans are now confident that President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus measure will boost the economy, and the rapid rise in optimism about the state of the nation that followed the 2008 election has abated, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

‘Buy American’ Backlash, a Skirmish, a Battle, and Then …

By | General, Trade | No Comments

No, we don’t expect a renewal of 1812 hostilities, but in matters of trade …

Tony Clement is Canadian Industry Minister.

Michael Wilson is Canada’s ambassador to the United States.

Jim Flaherty is Finance Minister.

Michael Ignatieff is leader of the opposition, the Liberal Party.

The German and Mexican links are included just to make the point that the rest of the world is watching and making plans.

Canadian Minister of Industry, the Mistakes of ‘Buy American’

By | Economy, General, Trade | No Comments

Canadian Minister of Industry Tony Clement spent the morning at the National Association of Manufacturers, meeting with NAM President John Engler and our trade policy staff,  giving remarks and then answering questions from member companies and associations, and then holding a brief news conference attended by the trade/trade press and Canadian media.

Topic du jour was the “Buy American” provisions in the U.S. economic stimulus bill that have riled many on the northern side of the border. In his news conference, Clement offered a summary of his government’s views and his goals in coming to Washington:

The Canadian government is concerned about any impulses towards more “Buy America” and more protectionism. We see that as inconsistent with the President’s participation in and agreement with the G20 talks and other fora, international fora. It’s a consensus in the world that in order for us to get to the end of the world economy downtown, we need to resist protectionist pressures that we’re all facing, quite frankly, in all our jurisdictions.

We wish to work with the U.S. Administration and with Congress to make sure that this is not something that infringes upon Canada-U.S. trade agreement. We actually think it’s more injurious to American trade, to the health of U.S. trade, to allow these pressures to continued be acted out on.

A lengthier excerpt is available here as a transcript and here as a soundfile.

Several times during his remarks and news conference, Minister Clement mentioned the news conference Secretary of State Clinton gave when she discussed U.S.-Canadian border issues, highlighting security but also emphasizing the importance of commerce. As the Canadian Press reported, Secretary Clinton said security is the goal “without undermining either our relationship or the trade in goods and services, the tourism, the natural flow of people who both work and go to school and recreate on both sides of the border.”

More from Dow-Jones:

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement expressed concern Wednesday that the Buy American provisions included in the U.S. stimulus package passed earlier this year continue to expand.

“It seems to be metastasizing a little bit, which is of grave concern to Canada,” Clement told reporters during a trip to Washington to meet with Obama administration officials and lawmakers.

The Good, The Bad, and This is Stimulus?

By | Economy, Infrastructure | No Comments

President Obama today heads to the Department of Transportation to draw attention to the stimulative spending on infrastructure. From AP, “Stimulus tallies 2,000 transportation projects“:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says two rare phrases describe how his administration is spending billions in stimulus money on roads: “ahead of schedule” and “under budget.”

Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood planned Monday to highlight the administration’s 2,000th project funded through the $48.1 billion allocated for transportation infrastructure in the stimulus package. Administration aides note the six-weeks-old law is already producing jobs nationwide, including the day’s highlighted project in hard-hit Kalamazoo County, Mich.

That $68 million project planned to widen an interchange from four lanes to six along Interstate 94 in Portage, Mich.

In education, borrowing from little Petey Jr. to pay Paul. Washington Post, “Schools’ ‘Money Is Falling Off the Truck’“:

Educators across the country are counting on a federal stimulus windfall to prevent teacher layoffs and improve schools. But while Washington is giving, some state and local governments are taking away.

After hearing that an initial batch of $11.8 million in federal funds would soon arrive in Loudoun County, supervisors slashed $7.3 million from the schools budget. They also made clear that if more federal recovery money flows to schools, schools might be asked to give back an equal amount of county dollars.

The Obama administration has heralded the stimulus — which funnels an unprecedented $100 billion into public schools, universities and early childhood programs — as a historic opportunity to reform education. But the budget shifts in Loudoun offer a case study of a phenomenon that worries educators nationwide. When the math is done, will the fiscal jolt from Washington be enough to transform classrooms?

No. The answer to that question is, “No.”

And a Department of Interior news release, “Secretary Salazar Announces Department of Interior Economic Stimulus Projects: USGS Investments Underscore Commitment to ‘Best Science‘:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the Department of the Interior’s first projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – $140 million that will fund 308 U.S. Geological Survey projects across the 50 states. The USGS, the leading science research bureau in the federal government, supports the science needs of all the other bureaus of the Department of the Interior and other departments of the U.S. government. The USGS will play a critical role in addressing the nation’s energy and climate change challenges.

Overall, the Department of the Interior will manage $3.0 billion in investments as part of the recovery plan signed by the President to jumpstart our economy, create or save jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st Century.

“These USGS projects not only stimulate job creation and preservation, but they stimulate the scientific research that must underpin the decisions we make on behalf of the American people as the stewards of the nation’s natural resources,” Secretary Salazar said in a teleconference today. “As America’s leading earth science agency, USGS is central to helping us meet the imperatives of the nation’s energy and climate change challenges.”

Worthy projects, seems like: $15 million to monitor volcanoes, another $15 million for improved stream monitoring, but stimulus? A half-million to digitize bird-banding records seems like it won’t do anything to jump start the economy.

The Stimulus Bill, Housing and a Different Perspective

By | Economy | No Comments

Looking for other, non-predictable, non-MSM perspectives on the stimulus bill, we find this in newspaper boxes all around the metropolitan D.C. area today, the latest issue of the Washington Hispanic:

The main headline: “Stimulus doesn’t help everyone”

The smaller deck above the headline: “Many hispanics like Mauricio Zelaya are in danger of losing their homes”

Announcements made this week by President Obama of an unprecedented package of stimulus measures to counter the economic recession and the multibillion dollar housing finance plan may be dead letters for Mauricio Zelaya, who has lived for eight years in a house in Hyattsville (Maryland).Zelaya, of Salvadorean origin and the father of five boys, is in danger of losing his home having been a victim of mortgage fraud by a group of unlicensed lenders.

Just two points: Housing and housing finance remain powerful political issues, obviously moreso in lower-income communities where fraud was more prevalent.

And, what a telling assumption, that the stimulus bill was supposed to help everyone — including victims of crime. Everyone!

P.S. On another note, the paper reports that Venezuelans in the Washington area voted overwhelmingly against the constitutional amendment that would allow Hugo Chavez to continue in office. In ballots cast at the Venezuelan embassay here in Washington, the count was 631 no, 64 yes.

In the House, the Big Vote of the Day

By | General | No Comments
H. Res. 139:
commemorating the life and legacy of President Abraham Lincoln on the bicentennial of his birth 

Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

On motion to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 403 – 0 (Roll no. 71).

Oh, right. You wanted THIS one.

H.R. 1:
making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes 

Motions to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

2:24 P.M. –
On agreeing to the conference report Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 246 – 183, 1 Present (Roll no. 70).