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Trade Growth Essential for Manufacturing Renaissance

By | America's Business, Economy, General, Presidents Blog | No Comments

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is blogging from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week. 

Jay Timmons makes remarks at an NAM/Politico event on jobs and the economy. / Photo by David Bohrer

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) kicked off its week at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) today. Just as we did in Tampa, we are partnering with Politico, and today we hosted an event featuring a number of top policymakers who are attending the DNC.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell joined Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina and former Rep. Susan Molinari, who is now a government affairs executive with Google, at the Politico Hub. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer also participated, as did Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors.

The panelists gave a nod to manufacturing as a bright spot in the economic recovery, but news this morning once again demonstrated that we have a lot of work ahead of us. Manufacturing contracted in August, the third month in a row. Reflecting on the global economic uncertainty, Goolsbee commented, “Most any country in the world would rather have our problems.”

But that is little consolation to the 8.3 percent of Americans who are unemployed, and the millions more who are underemployed.  The United States did not achieve its economic leadership by default—because our competitors were worse off.  We did so by out-innovating and out-working them, feats made possible by our system of free enterprise.

Economist Austan Goolsbee fields questions at an NAM/Politico event on jobs and the economy. / Photo by David Bohrer

One tenet of free enterprise is free trade, and a topic that came up repeatedly during the panel discussion today was trade. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Reaching these customers is critical for manufacturers’ growth, yet obstacles stand in the way of increased exports.

For one, many nations have tariffs or other trade barriers that make products from the U.S. less competitive. The U.S. can help bring these barriers down through free trade agreements. But right now, out of the dozens of trade pacts being negotiated around the world, the U.S. is party to just one.

Revitalizing the nation’s trade agenda is one part of a pro-growth plan to strengthen manufacturing and grow jobs and the economy. The NAM has an agenda that will lead the way.

Manufacturing Can Lead the Way Toward 12 Million New Jobs

By | America's Business, General, Presidents Blog | No Comments

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is blogging from the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.

Last night, Mitt Romney wrapped up the Republican Convention and succinctly summed up what this election is about.  “What America needs is jobs,” he said. “Lots of jobs.”

Jobs are indeed what will get voters to the polls.  Unemployment has stood over 8 percent for 42 consecutive months—that spans President’s Obama’s entire presidency.  Worse still, millions more Americans are working in jobs for which they are overqualified, not getting the full benefit of the skills they have worked so hard to acquire.

Governor Romney promised to create 12 million jobs, and while he did not single out manufacturing, he did lay out a number of priorities for manufacturers. He talked about an “all-of-the-above” energy plan—though he did not use that term—but it was clear what he meant when he talked about “taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.”

He talked about new free trade agreements, a key priority if American manufacturers are to reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States.  President Obama deserves credit for seeing the Colombia, Panama and South Korea trade pacts through to completion, but our country’s trade agenda has since stalled.  We need to get it moving again.

Romney talked about providing our young people with the skills they need to succeed in the modern workplace and simplifying and modernizing our complex and onerous regulatory system.  Both are important to manufacturers’ ability to grow and create jobs.

Now it’s on to Charlotte, where President Obama and his supporters will have their chance to make the case for another term.  President Obama will undoubtedly defend his record, but manufacturers are also expecting to hear what he plans to do if voters decide to extend his stay in the White House.

Eight percent unemployment and stagnant economic growth is unacceptable, and with the elections just two months away, manufacturers expect a clear pro-growth vision from Republicans and Democrats alike.

South Carolina Governor Highlights Manufacturing

By | America's Business, General, Presidents Blog | No Comments

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is blogging from the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.

The Republican National Convention kicked off in earnest last night.  The atmosphere in the Tampa Bay Times Forum was electric.

For me, the highlight of the evening was the speech of Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina.  The Palmetto State is a great place to manufacture, and the industry has had a significant, positive impact on the state’s economy.  As Governor Haley said, “We build things in the Palmetto State. We build planes. We build cars.”

But it’s not always easy. As the Governor pointed out in no uncertain terms, in recent years, the federal government has put up obstacles to growth in the state.

When the Boeing Company expanded into South Carolina, it was a great opportunity.  Boeing’s billion-dollar investment meant 1,000 new jobs, and it meant that the state would be at the forefront of aerospace innovation, building the new 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The National Labor Relations Board, however, stepped in and said the investment violated our labor laws, an action that threatened to wipe out Boeing’s investment and the new jobs.  Ultimately, Boeing prevailed, and today the South Carolina facility is up and running.

Governor Haley told this story well last night and offered an incisive perspective about the consequences of government overreach and its impact on a state and its citizens

I’m looking forward to hearing more about manufacturing from the speakers tonight.  In the meantime, the NAM continues to ensure manufacturing remains on everyone’s radar in Tampa.

This morning, I had a conversation with Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who was a manufacturer before coming to the Senate in 2011.  We talked about the devastating impact the fiscal abyss would have on the economy and about the need for Congress to act quickly to avert this threat.

The fiscal abyss is a common theme in Tampa. The issue has come up repeatedly in my conversations with members of the press and media, and given the dire predictions that inaction by Congress could plunge the nation back into a recession, it’s no surprise why.

Leaders Highlight Manufacturing Challenges at NAM-Politico Event

By | America's Business, General, Presidents Blog | No Comments

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is blogging from the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.

In a matter of hours, we’ll hear the first speeches at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, but the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) had an early opportunity to hear from some of our nation’s top leaders earlier this afternoon.

Carly Fiorina, Rep. Darrell Issa and Gov. Bob McDonnell discuss jobs and the economy at the RNC in Tampa, Fla./Photo by David Bohrer

The NAM has partnered with the Politico newspaper to host policy events with political and business leaders in Tampa and Charlotte. Today, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Congressman Darrell Issa of California and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina talked about the challenges job creators face and the policies that will get our economy moving again.

Manufacturing is clearly a priority in the economic recovery.  After all, it has the highest multiplier effect of any other industry. Every dollar invested in manufacturing generates another $1.35 in economic activity. What’s good for manufacturing is good for our entire economy.

McDonnell, Issa and Fiorina each talked about the impediments that job creators face in this country and singled out taxes and regulation as challenges—sentiments that echo what manufacturers have been saying. As the recent NAM/Industry Week survey of manufacturers found, 64 percent of manufacturers cite the unfavorable business climate created by taxes and regulation as their biggest challenge.

Competitive tax and regulatory policies would go a long way toward restoring our economy to full strength. With the right policies, like those outlined in the NAM’s Manufacturing Renaissance, manufacturing will lead the economic resurgence and put Americans back to work.

The NAM-Politico event was great opportunity to highlight manufacturing and its crucial role in our nation’s future.  That’s why the NAM is attending the conventions: To make sure that the national conversation about manufacturing continues into November and beyond.

Our collaboration with Politico is just part of our efforts. This morning, I talked about the policy challenges manufacturers face and what we are looking for from both presidential candidates on CNBC’s Squawkbox.

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.  

Ford Agreement with UAW Positive for Manufacturers

By | Economy, Labor Unions | 2 Comments

Today, Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers (UAW) have come to a tentative agreement that will result in thousands of quality manufacturing jobs at a critical time in our economy. Ford has stated they plan to add another 5,750 U.S. jobs in addition to the 7,000 they announced in January, which will in turn create a ripple effect of new jobs for other manufacturers and businesses throughout the supply chain. Many workers and their families will benefit from these additional jobs.

Both large and small manufacturers are essential to our economy and the recovery.  The United States is still the top manufacturing economy in the world and today’s announcement, which will create jobs, will make the manufacturing sector stronger.

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

Debt Ceiling Done, But Congress Has More Work Ahead

By | Economy | No Comments

With hours to spare, Congress sent a debt ceiling compromise to the President.  As the August 2 deadline approached, the stops and starts in the negotiations created some tense moments—but did anyone really expect that Washington wouldn’t wait until the last moment?

The President and Congress had to raise the debt ceiling to allow the federal government to pay its bills—bills it had already incurred or promised to pay.  While some argued against raising the debt limit and letting the federal government juggle its finances to pay some of its bills, this strategy would not work.  In fact, a government default on even some of its obligations would hurt everyone—businesses, investors, retirees, and those of us who rely on government services (and we all do to some extent).

While raising the debt limit was a necessary step, it’s clear that Washington also has to do something to rein in federal spending.  Twenty years ago, it cost about $1.3 trillion to run our government.  Today, it costs nearly three times that—an estimated $3.4 trillion this year. Our budget deficit this year is projected to be about $1.5 trillion; we are borrowing 44 cents for every dollar we spend from future generations. This kind of deficit spending is not sustainable and already has begun to threaten long-term economic growth.  Given the historically high level of the federal deficit, it is imperative that policymakers look both at real and immediate spending cuts and structural changes that address the long-term deficit.

To the credit of Washington policymakers, the debt ceiling compromise does begin to address our deficit problem, with an immediate $900 billion cut in federal spending and at least $1.2 trillion more over the next two years.  But this is just a start.  We need further spending cuts that target both the discretionary and mandatory spending sides of the ledger, while also keeping in mind the priorities of a national government.  National defense, for example, is one of the most important, if not the most important, functions of a government.  Congress and the President must preserve our nation’s ability to defend itself and its citizens.

Congress and the President should also avoid taking steps that would stifle economic growth in their efforts to bring down the debt.  Economic growth is an essential component of any plan to rein in our debt.  Growth, for example, produces higher revenues—so we won’t have to borrow as much.

In short, as Congress and the President look for ways to cut spending, they must avoid making the easy political choices and instead opt for a plan that upholds our nation’s priorities and puts us on a path toward a strong, growing economy.

With this latest Washington crisis behind us, Congress has left town for the rest of the summer.  When it returns, it will face other matters of urgency.  Congress still must pass the three pending free trade agreements.  The research and development tax credit is set to expire.  Manufacturers are waiting on Congress to do something about the harmful regulations coming out of federal agencies.

Congress should enjoy the break.  There’s a lot to do ahead.

President Obama Highlights Manufacturing in Iowa

By | Economy | No Comments

President Obama joined manufacturers this afternoon at Alcoa Davenport Works in Bettendorf, Iowa. NAM Board Chair and Vermeer Corporation President CEO Mary Andringa greeted the President before his tour of the facility and attended his speech.

Los Angeles Times,Obama highlights manufacturing revival, jobs in Iowa
BusinessWeek, “Obama Turns to Alcoa as Backdrop for Manufacturing Message

The President discussed several of the initiatives he announced earlier this month, including his endorsement of the Manufacturing Institute’s Skills Certification System and the formation of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership of which Alcoa is a partner. 

We are encouraged to hear President Obama continue to discuss the importance of manufacturing to the economy and to job growth. Yet manufacturers continue to face burdensome regulations, higher taxes and energy costs and increased global competition.

If manufacturers are going to continue to lead our economic recovery and create quality, high-paying jobs we need policies that give business owners certainty and the tools to grow. The NAM has a blueprint of policies that will help us remain competitive. Our Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America has three very simple goals:

  • To make the U.S. the best country in the world to headquarter a company and for direct foreign investment.
  • To make the U.S. the best country to innovate and perform the bulk of a company’s research and development.
  • To make the U.S. a great place to manufacture and serve as an export platform for the world.

It is my hope that we can continue to work with President Obama, his Administration and Congress on advancing policies that keep the United States the number one manufacturing economy in the world.

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

Manufacturers Urge Congress to Rein In EPA’s Overregulation

By | Energy, Global Warming, Regulations | One Comment

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) today launched a campaign to put a human face on the unprecedented expansion of federal regulations coming from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Manufacturing is leading the way in America’s recovery, adding thousands of jobs every week. But the flood of regulations pouring down from the EPA will mean higher prices for energy and impose enormous costs throughout the economy.

Manufacturers pay utility bills like everyone else. When residential energy costs go up, families have less money to buy things like clothes and groceries. When energy costs go up for manufacturers, we have less money to invest – and to hire people.

We’re releasing these new ads as Congress considers legislation to block the EPA’s proposed regulating of greenhouse gas emissions. No federal agency should have the authority to simply mandate such a radical, nationwide restructuring of energy use – and force people to pay higher energy prices – without a vote of the elected branch of government, Congress.

Manufacturers already have invested billions of dollars to comply with federal regulations. We embrace common-sense approaches to ensure a clean and healthy environment.

Unfortunately, the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations are only the biggest, most economically damaging of its many proposals. Whether it’s mining, transportation, farming, or manufacturing, the EPA is rolling out mandates that make it tougher for businesses in America to compete in the global marketplace, and tougher for people to make ends meet.

As our ads asks, “Manufacturing has always provided good jobs that support our local economies. But times are tough. So why is the EPA pushing new regulations that could force businesses to close, making times tougher, increasing costs and prices for goods and services?”

The NAM’s new TV and radio ads are just the beginning of a sustained educational campaign about the EPA’s excessive regulations and their effect on the U.S. manufacturing economy.

To learn more about this campaign and the damaging effects of the EPA’s proposed regulations, please visit www.NoNewRegs.org.

Jay Timmons is President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Post bumped to the top throughout the day.

For the SOU: Competitiveness and Jobs, Policies and Action

By | Economy | No Comments

The White House has already identified competitiveness and jobs as major themes in President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, and manufacturers believe those are exactly the right issues to put front and center before the American people. Now we are waiting for the details, including specific policy proposals and actions.

Jay Timmons

Manufacturers are proud to be leading the way in the economic recovery. Last year, manufacturing reported its first gain in U.S. employment since 1997: The number of manufacturing jobs in the United States in 2010 grew by 1.2 percent, or 136,000. Economists expect the trend to continue over the next few years, demonstrating that manufacturing means jobs.

We want to do more to create jobs – much more – and there’s still a long way to go. Unemployment has been stuck above 9 percent since June 2009, and hiring traditionally lags behind economic growth.

The National Association of Manufacturers has laid out a clear strategy to achieve the goals for a dynamic, growing and competitive U.S. economy: our “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America.”

The stage is well set, and manufacturers are waiting with anticipation for the State of the Union. We might very well disagree with some details in any substantive proposal that President Obama makes tonight, but we understand that a proposal is just the first step toward final action. And our goal is simple – let us create jobs.

Manufacturers want America to be more competitive, and we want economic growth to lead to more jobs. In that, we agree with both President Obama and Congress.

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

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