Just as he did in his State of the Union address eight months ago, President Obama again put manufacturing front and center last night in his nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
He touted some achievements of his term—new manufacturing jobs and three new free trade agreements—but then laid out a new challenge for the next four years: creating one million manufacturing jobs.
That’s a laudable goal, but it’s clear that something has to change. President Obama simply rehashed some of the policies of his current administration—growing exports, for example (which we, of course, support). But manufacturers need bolder policy prescriptions. After all, the jobs report this morning reflected that manufacturing lost 15,000 jobs last month. If the status quo isn’t working now, why should Americans expect more of the same to lead to one million new jobs?
Of course, the first step in creating one million jobs is to stop going backwards. But that is exactly what is going to continue happening in a few months if our leaders don’t decisively deal with the impending fiscal abyss. The fiscal abyss means job losses for small and medium-sized manufacturers as a result of tax increases as well as job losses for innovators in the defense industry, who will be hit hard by indiscriminate cuts that will do little to solve our long-term fiscal challenges. Add to that the significantly mounting regulatory costs on manufacturers, and the result is a business climate that stifles job creation.
Neither candidate offered policy specifics these past two weeks. Over the next two months, they should. The problems facing manufacturers are abundantly clear, and manufacturers want to hear what both candidates plan to do to solve them.