President Obama Archives - Shopfloor

President’s Special JAMA Article Defends Continued Health Care Overreach

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The thesis is more of the same from President Obama and his administration: A public option and continued federal interference in health care markets will strengthen and improve the legacy of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The president’s recent submission to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is a personal policy defense of his hallmark health care initiative before the medical community. The president even took the opportunity to go beyond ACA and attacked pharmaceutical manufacturers to relinquish hard-earned intellectual property in the name of pricing transparency, a flawed policy approach that will fail to lower prescription drug prices and only stifle medical innovation and future discovery.

Unfortunately, many of the president’s arguments in the special JAMA article fail to recognize the negative impacts of the law on the already-insured and the employer community, which robustly provides health insurance for nearly half of the nation’s population.

Ninety-eight percent of manufacturers offer health insurance to employees and anxieties continue concerning the possible implementation of the employee benefits taxa 40 percent surcharge paid by employers on benefits that exceed a certain cost for a family or individual. Furthermore, manufacturers continue to report significant concerns with rising health care costs.

While Congress has granted a delay of the so-called “Cadillac” tax until 2020, the president defended the tax as an incentive to improve private-sector health plans. For employers, the continued uncertainty surrounding the ACA and new bureaucratic entanglements set in motion six years ago have created a headache that has yet to subside.

As the election approaches with a new president and new Congress set to take office in 2017, manufacturers will continue to fight senseless red tape that obstructs the ability to offer quality health care. A permanent repeal of the Cadillac tax and the punitive medical device tax are top priorities post-November, as both provisions of the ACA have come to represent balance transfers from productive profit centers to a Rube Goldberg machine that is our health care system. Manufacturers will continue to lead by providing health benefits to employees and will support efforts that make it easier, not harder, to provide these important benefits.

Contracting By Executive Order

By | Human Resources | No Comments

By Joe Trauger and Amanda Woods

President Obama used the Labor Day holiday this year as an opportunity to announce yet another initiative he cannot get through Congress by placing the burden and impact of bad policy on the backs of businesses wishing to contract with the federal government. While the announcement was not a surprise, after all this is something he’s done more of than any previous president in history – use the federal contracting process as a laboratory of bad ideas in labor policy – it demonstrates the ineptitude of an administration so driven to do what sounds good to the heart rather than what is actually good practice.

The President’s latest Executive Order would require all federal contractors to provide at least 7 days of paid leave under similar conditions as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Unfortunately, we have seen this pattern with the President, time and time again.  When a policy proposal cannot move through Congress, with a stroke of a pen the President exercises the wide, and some may say abusive, discretion over federal contractors and forces upon them what otherwise cannot be achieved. This appears to be done with little thought about whether it may be burdensome or even necessary. For instance, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contractors.  While there has been much talk about whether there should be an increase, the bills in both the House and Senate have failed. Rather than accept the will of Congress, the Administration thrusts the issue upon federal contractors, some of which will not be able to absorb or adjust accordingly due to market constraints.

It is not just minimum wage, blacklisting, or this latest policy on paid sick leave. President Obama has issued no less than 11 Executive Orders placing additional requirements on businesses who wish to contract with the federal government. These new requirements cover many aspects of the day-to-day operations of a business and have no bearing on whether the federal contracting process is fair, efficient, or yields the best results for the American taxpayer. In the end, this latest action will have little impact on larger federal contractors who are extremely likely to offer paid leave already. No, the greatest impact will be felt by the small businesses who are trying to offer their products and services to a government that more and more often refuses to see that bad ideas have consequences – or worse, a government that doesn’t care whether there are consequences at all.

President Supports NLRB’s Ambush Election Rule

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | No Comments

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? Read More

Manufacturers Tell President, Congress to Find a Debt Solution

By | Economy | No Comments

As the government shutdown drags on and the deadline to raise the debt ceiling grows precipitously closer, uncertainty is once again standing in the pathway to economic growth.

Today, in a letter to the President and House and Senate leadership, NAM president and CEO Jay Timmons laid out manufacturers’ concerns and urged our leaders to push past the partisanship that has defined Washington in recent years to “put the nation’s best interests first by addressing the debt limit.”

Timmons made special note that failure to meet the United States financial obligations would “seriously disrupt our fragile economy and have a ripple effect throughout the world.”

Make no mistake about it – the current partisan environment is frustrating to us all. However, the fallout for letting these differences push our nation into default on our debt will be felt for years and every sector of our economy will suffer the consequences.

Manufacturers are hopeful that the President and Congress will find a way to do what is necessary to prevent such an economic catastrophe and the NAM will continue to urge policymakers to arrive at a solution as quickly as possible.

Economic Status Quo Isn’t Cutting it – Let’s See Some Action

By | Economy, Energy | No Comments

Today at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, President Obama returned his focus to jobs and the economy, launching a series of speeches at the site he first laid out his economic vision as Illinois’ junior senator in 2005. His speech, while cautioning against the hyper-partisan atmosphere in Washington, D.C. these days, incidentally seemed to stoke those flames.

It’s an understatement to say that things aren’t going great right now. Despite President Obama’s comments that the economy is back, the numbers don’t quite share the same optimism. Growth is slower than it should be, manufacturers have seen job loss in four consecutive months, and it’s clear that the current policies aren’t working. The President’s call for sustainable economic growth is laudable, but as Dana Milbank of the Washington Post notes, his address seemed to lack any new ideas or proposals. The status quo just isn’t cutting it right now – and manufacturers have a suggestion.

Adopt the NAM’s Growth Agenda – a blueprint for economic growth. It’s a thoughtful, commonsense approach to reducing the burdens on our manufacturers in the U.S. that would provide the President with the tools he’s seeking to get our economy out of the mud. We agree that economic growth must be Washington’s highest priority – let’s make it so by putting pro-growth policies first. Growing our domestic energy production advantage, including approving the Keystone Pipeline, is one such policy – hopefully we won’t see it under attack yet again with the substitution of politics for policy.

Building up our nation’s infrastructure, improving STEM education and enacting comprehensive immigration reform are fundamentally necessary to ensuring manufacturers in the U.S. can compete and we share the President’s resolve to see those priorities become a reality.

President Obama’s determination to see a thriving manufacturing sector is admirable and we appreciate that manufacturing has been a verbal centerpiece of his plans – but manufacturers need action. We’ll be watching carefully to see if any comes out of this speech tour.

On Energy Policy We Need to Make the Pie Bigger

By | Energy | No Comments

Today President Obama urged Congress to establish an “energy security trust” which would take a portion of federal revenues from oil and gas production on federal lands and earmark them for research in advanced vehicle technology which would include cars fueled by electricity, bio cells, natural gas and biofuels.  The goal would be to earmark $2 billion over the next 10 years for research in these areas. Initially the President spoke about his plan during the State of the Union speech in February.

The President visited the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago for his speech today. This federal lab has been working on advanced vehicle technology since the 1990s with a focus on advanced car batteries. During his visit he again spoke about an “energy security trust.” While much of what he said was positive and good we can’t afford to focus on just a few fuels. We need to continue basic research on all types of fuels. Advance vehicle technology research is critical if we are to continue to increase the efficiency of our cars and trucks. The research of today will reduce vehicle fuel consumption and the impact of vehicles on our environment in the future.

As part of his plan the President said he is looking for a pilot program to remove the “bottle necks” from the permitting process in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale Formation. This is great news,  the White House finally understands that the permitting process is taking far too much time and is the “bottle neck” in the production process.  This should not be a surprise. The energy sector has been talking about these permitting bottle necks for years! We hope the Administration and the President understand that it has been the federal government that has created barriers to production and slowed our exploration efforts.

Second, I found it interesting that the President would pick the Bakkens for a pilot project given that most of the production in the Bakken Shale Formation is taking place on private lands where the federal permitting process is not an issue. The fact is that for the last 6 years most all of the new production has taken place on private lands. Most of the shale gas development is on private lands. If we had to rely solely on federal lands for oil and gas development we would still be building import facilities for LNG! Read More

Time for Washington to Listen to Manufacturers and Let us Lead

By | Economy, Presidents Blog | No Comments

When the President says that the private sector is doing fine, as he did today during a press conference from the White House, manufacturers across the country must respectfully disagree.  We remind the President that it is 20 percent more expensive to do business in the United States when compared to our largest trading partners.

We remind the President that we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  We remind the President that the United States is party to only one trade agreement when currently there are over 200 such agreements being negotiated in the global marketplace. We remind the President that he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline that would provide a consistent and affordable energy source and create 138,000 jobs.  And we remind the President that our country has unnecessary regulation after regulation that drives up the cost of business in a sector that is poised for growth.

Because manufacturers – the real people in the real world – understand that things in our country aren’t necessarily as “fine” as the President might believe, nearly 400 of them spent the last two days in Washington, D.C., meeting with policymakers for the NAM’s annual Manufacturing Summit.

These men and women traveled to Capitol Hill from every corner of the country to share their stories with our elected leaders. They discussed the need for comprehensive business tax reform that will lower tax rates and provide certainty for all businesses, for an “all of the above” energy strategy that stops placing our resources off-limits, and for real support of manufacturers’ efforts to create jobs and address the challenges they face finding workers with the skills required in modern manufacturing.

It’s time for Washington to listen to manufacturers because they have the know-how and ability to lead our economic recovery.

Jay Timmons is president and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers.  

VP Biden Talks Manufacturing in Michigan

By | Economy | No Comments

Today Vice President Joe Biden was in Grand Rapids, MI talking about manufacturing and following up on the proposals laid out last week by President Obama in the State of the Union.

We are happy to see the President and Vice President are continuing to talk about manufacturing and realize how important it is to the economy and job creation. However, manufacturers need the right policies to grow and create jobs.

Manufacturers are looking for the “All-of-the-Above” energy policy that includes the Keystone XL pipeline. If they Administration wants to create manufacturing jobs, the perfect project was right before them. Keystone XL will create 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs and more than 118,000 spin-off jobs.

As the discussion continues about manufacturing and how to create jobs we hope that both Congress and the Administration will move forward with policies to let manufacturers lead the economic recovery and create quality, high-paying jobs.

President Obama Announces Plan to Reorganize Trade Agencies

By | Trade | No Comments

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.

Keystone XL Construction Will Create 7,000 Manufacturing Jobs

By | Economy | No Comments

New details were released by TransCanada today on the potential job creation that awaits once the Keystone XL pipeline is approved. The data shows that the pipeline will create 20,000 jobs – 7,000 specific to manufacturing.

December’s employment report showed a lower unemployment rate of 8.5 percent. While this is good news, it does not restore the certainty that Americans need. The Keystone XL pipeline is the key to a national energy plan that strives for affordable, reliable and secure energy.

TransCanada boasts the residual effect of the pipeline.

“Hundreds of jobs will be created through requirements for fuel, coating materials, welding supplies, concrete materials, geo-textile materials, pipeline weights, native seed materials for reclamation, cathodic protection materials, crushed rock, sediment barrier materials, valve and pigging assemblies, field trailer manufacturing, construction mats, power facility materials, aggregate manufacturing, road construction materials, water and waste facility manufacturing, fencing materials, communication infrastructure, bridge construction materials and many others.”

The ball is now in President Obama’s court. Congress gave President Obama 60 days to deny that the Keystone XL pipeline is in our nation’s best interest. Manufacturers, who are excited about this opportunity to invest and expand, remain waiting on the sidelines.