In the first 100 days of the Trump administration, manufacturers have seen many actions from President Trump to provide regulatory relief. Now, there’s good news coming from the Senate as well. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) have released the Regulatory Accountability Act, which, in their words is “designed to make federal regulations smarter and more effective so they better support businesses, families, and jobs by modernizing the federal regulatory process that hasn’t been significantly reformed in 70 years.” Read More
The latest jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are in, and while the broader jobs numbers increased, jobs in the manufacturing sector fell for the third straight month, declining by 9,000—losing 62,000 workers year to date. Not only does this suggest that manufacturers continue to exercise caution in their business practices, but it points to the fact that continued challenges, including the failure to move on critical pro-manufacturing policies in Washington, are having a severe impact on the nation’s most innovative sector.
Unfortunately, throughout this election cycle, isolationist and incendiary rhetoric have continued to harm manufacturing workers and their families by perpetuating myths about pro-growth policies like free trade. For their part, manufacturers will continue to stress the policies that will enable faster economic growth and enhance the sector’s overall global competitiveness.
National security should always be a top concern of our elected leaders, but it should never be an excuse to marginalize those who are different or to abandon our country’s heritage as a nation of immigrants. Yet, that is exactly what Donald Trump has done over the past year, fomenting hostility toward immigrants generally—and Mexican and Muslim immigrants specifically—by blaming them for a range of perceived problems.
On Monday, he continued his pattern of stoking peoples’ fears about immigration, and, among other things, called for “extreme vetting.” It is his policies and rhetoric that are in need of some “extreme vetting.”
We have an obligation to fix and reform our nation’s immigration system, but that does not mean following the dangerous policies Donald Trump is proposing. The answer is not building a wall. The answer is not imposing a religious test.
Manufacturers know that immigration strengthens our country and our workplaces. As the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) outlined in our “Competing to Win” policy agenda, “Comprehensive immigration reform holds the power to transform not only manufacturing but also our nation and economy to new heights. Unfortunately, political inertia has held us back from achieving progress and needed reforms.”
The current system hurts our competitiveness as foreign-born talent, often educated in the United States, moves abroad to work, manufacture, innovate and compete against us.
The current system is denying people the opportunity to live up to their potential—and move our country forward in the process.
America’s economic frustrations are real, and concerns about national security are valid. However, shameless immigrant bashing and promises to wall off our country—literally and metaphorically—from the rest of the world will make us weaker.
As NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons has said, “We attract the best and the brightest, the most industrious, to our shores.” As a country, let us figure out how to empower immigrants—those who are here already and those who still yearn for freedom—to contribute to America’s success.
It has been just over three weeks since Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) became Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine. And in that short amount of time, he has, to the disappointment of manufacturers, changed positions on two of our most important issues: energy and trade.
As a senator, manufacturers could often count on Sen. Kaine to be a reasonable voice on energy and environmental policy issues. On energy exports, he was in line with manufacturers, cosponsoring legislation in 2013 and 2015 to improve the permitting process for liquefied natural gas export terminals—projects that will drive billions of dollars in investments in manufacturing and other industrial sectors. On opening access to oil and gas resources off the Atlantic Coast, Sen. Kaine once again helped lead the charge, cosponsoring legislation in 2013 and again in 2015 directing the Department of Interior to include the Atlantic Coast in its energy lease sales.
Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine, on the other hand, is staking out a starkly different position on energy development. He opposes unlocking oil and gas resources off the Atlantic Coast. This abrupt shift on energy policy raises some red flags for manufacturers, consumers of one-third of the nation’s energy. An NAM study performed by IHS Economics forecasts that over the next decade, total demand for natural gas will increase by 40 percent, driven in large part by increased demand from manufacturers.
On the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), we are also seeing a tale of two Kaines. While nothing about the text of the TPP has changed since the 12-country trade deal was signed in February, Sen. Kaine’s position has appeared to shift significantly. In July, he made several positive statements on the TPP, noting that there “was much in it to like,” including upgraded labor, environmental and intellectual property standards. Less than a week later, however, Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine completely disavowed the TPP. Sen. Kaine’s original statements on the TPP, not his newfound opposition, are in line with the type of trade agenda that will grow U.S. manufacturing. The United States is losing in the global competition to open markets, as other countries have negotiated hundreds of trade agreements that exclude and disadvantage manufacturers in the United States. Manufacturers need trade agreements like the TPP to eliminate foreign trade barriers and upgrade foreign standards to level the playing field and boost U.S. competitiveness globally. Standing on the global sidelines just means the United States will fall further and further behind competitors, such as China, Mexico, Germany and others.
If manufacturers are going to continue driving economic growth over the next four years and beyond, we need access to all forms of energy and access to more markets overseas. So we need leaders whose policy positions are more like Sen. Kaine’s than Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine’s.
Today, the Democratic Party adopted a platform that would drive many manufacturers out of business and many Americans out of their jobs. We hope this statement of party principles is not a signal that Sec. Clinton will follow the extreme voices in her party and copy a playbook that will punish, instead of empower, manufacturers in the United States.
Thankfully, the Democratic platform avoids the divisive attacks on individual liberty and equal opportunity that distracted the authors of the Republican Party platform. The Democrats also included workforce development and immigration policies that are reflected in our manufacturing policy agenda, “Competing to Win.”
On almost every other major manufacturing priority, however, the platform is out of touch with the reality of what manufacturing families are facing. On taxes, regulations, labor, energy and health care, the Democratic Party is not only advocating the continuation of many of President Obama’s antigrowth policies but also doubling down on the belief that government, not the private sector, creates growth and prosperity.
On trade, the protectionist rhetoric is alarming. The failure to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership sells American workers short. Manufacturers in the United States can compete and win around the world—if we have a level playing field with access to the 95 percent of the world’s customers who live overseas.
As an industry, we recognize some positives in this platform. However, these positives are overwhelmed by one job-killing proposal after another.
Based on news reports, today the Republican Party endorsed many key policies that will make manufacturing in the United States greater. The National Association of Manufacturers advanced many of the tax, regulatory, energy, labor and health care reform policies adopted by the party, and we applaud their inclusion in the platform.
At the same time, manufacturers are disappointed the party allowed divisive issues to obscure the importance of policies that will promote growth and opportunity for all Americans. The platform represents a missed opportunity to promote all pillars of American exceptionalism: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity. Some statements on trade, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, immigration policy, individual liberty and equal opportunity leave a lot to be desired. These misguided statements do not just hold back the party, but also our country.
If our leaders want to strengthen our country, bolster manufacturing and keep America exceptional, manufacturers have provided the road map to do just that and unify the country around mainstream solutions: “Competing to Win.”