On June 20, 2013, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL-) introduced H.R. 2447, “The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2013,”a bill that would bring together the private and public sectors to develop recommendations to revitalize American manufacturing and create good-paying, middle-class jobs here at home.” U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) is the lead Republican cosponsor.
This bill is a pillar of the “Make It in America” jobs plan in the House and would require the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Technology to develop a national manufacturing competitiveness strategic plan that would be updated every four years. The goals of the strategic plan would be to promote growth of the manufacturing sector, support the development of a skilled manufacturing workforce, enable innovation and investment in domestic manufacturing, and support national security.
In order to develop a manufacturing strategy, the bill would also require the Committee to conduct an analysis of factors that impact the competitiveness and growth of the United States manufacturing sector, such as “the adequacy of the industrial base for maintaining national security,” “Trade, trade enforcement, and intellectual property policies, and financing, investment, and taxation policies and practices…”
The Secretary of Commerce, or a designee of the Secretary shall serve as the chairperson of the Committee, and the Committee would be required to transmit the strategic plan developed to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives not later than one year after the date of enactment of the Act.
I laud Rep. Lipinski for being so persistent in attempting to get a bill passed that would develop a national manufacturing strategy. Last year, he and Rep. Kinzinger introduced “The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2012” (HR-5865). The bill passed the House on September 12, 2012, by a roll call vote of 339-77. However, the Senate did not act on the bill.
H. R. 5865 was actually a renaming of H.R. 1366, “The National Manufacturing Strategy Act of 2011,” that Rep Lipinski also introduced, which died in the Energy and Commerce Committee. Senators Brown and Kirk had introduced the Senate version of this bill in 2011, but it was never voted on by the Senate. Rep Lipinski had previously introduced H.R. 4692, “The National Manufacturing Strategy Act of 2010,” which passed the House in July 2010 with overwhelming bi-partisan support. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced the same bill in the Senate, but it was not voted on by the Senate.
Let us hope this new bill not only passes the House this year, but actually gets voted on and passed by the Senate. This new bill is far superior to last year’s bill in that it would utilize an existing committee rather than set up a new committee with a complex appointment structure for the proposed 15-member committee. It builds on the successful development of the 2012 National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing and utilizes the expertise and knowledge that was developed in that plan. It would be accomplished with less cost and be consistent with prior Administration work and legal authority. By using the existing committee of the NSTC, the strategy will bring together the many agencies and their expertise that interact with American manufacturing.
“American companies and their workers are operating at a severe disadvantage as they face foreign competitors who benefit from coordinated, strategic government policies that benefit manufacturing,” Rep. Lipinski said. “We need to recognize this reality and bring the public and private sectors together to develop a national manufacturing strategy that specifies recommendations for the optimal tax, trade, research, regulatory, and innovation policies that will enable American manufacturing to thrive. Manufacturing is critical for national security, an essential source of good-paying jobs for the middle class, and drives high-tech innovation.”
“Manufacturing is vital to our economic and national security, and it is critical that we do all we can to promote American competitiveness in the global economy,” Rep. Kinzinger said. “I’m proud to work with Congressman Lipinski to put forward bipartisan legislation that focuses our attention on the challenges facing American manufacturers.”
America has a long and proud manufacturing history. Manufacturing is the foundation of our economy and fostered the development and growth of the middle class in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since the 1970s, however, the number of manufacturing jobs has shrunk, from 20 million in 1979 to fewer than 12 million today. We lost 5.8 million manufacturing jobs just since 2000. The recent recession hit workers in manufacturing especially hard. The hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs has contributed to the stagnation of middle-class wages – since 2000, the median household income, after it’s been adjusted for inflation, has fallen by $4,787.
In a press release dated June 21st, Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said, “We commend Congressmen Lipinski and Kinzinger for their authorship of the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2013. Our nation’s manufacturers and their workers stand poised for a manufacturing resurgence, but Washington must do its part by implementing a strategy that actively responds to the challenges of the 21st Century.”
The Alliance for American Manufacturing recommends that “a national manufacturing strategy support private business by focusing government programs on increasing national competitiveness, reducing programmatic inefficiencies and redundancy, and coordinating policies across various agencies and departments.” This type of strategy would require the American government to act smarter in its efforts to promote growth, entrepreneurship, and innovation. AAM recommends that a national manufacturing strategy should:
- Keep our Trade Laws Strong and Strictly Enforced
- Combat Currency Manipulation
- Reduce the Trade Deficit
- Support Buy America
- Defend America with American Made Product
- Prepare for the Next Super Storm
- Invest in American Infrastructure
- Create New Ways to Invest in America.
- Use the Tax Code to Incentivize Domestic Manufacturing
- Educate Americans for Quality Jobs
- Invest in Energy Efficiency
The Alliance for American Manufacturing is just one of many organizations that have made recommendations on a national manufacturing strategy. In my book, Can American Manufacturing Be Saved? Why we should and how we can, the chapter on “How Can We Save American Manufacturing?” contains a summary of the recommendations of such organizations as the American Jobs Alliance, Coalition for a Prosperous America, Economy in Crisis, National Association of Manufacturers, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, and the U. S. Business and Industry Council, along with my own recommendations.
In April 2011, The Information Technology& Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a report, “The Case for a National Manufacturing Strategy,” that makes a strong case for such a strategy. Authors Stephen Ezell and Robert Atkinson recognize that “most U.S. manufacturers, small or large, cannot thrive solely on their own; they need to operate in an environment grounded in smart economic and innovation-supporting policies with regard to taxes, talent, trade, technological development, and physical and digital infrastructures.”
Ezell and Atkinson recommend adoption of the following actions as part of the national strategy:
- Increase public investment in R&D in general and industrially relevant in particular
- Support public-private partnerships that facilitate the transition of emerging technologies from universities and federal laboratories into commercial products
- Coordinate state, local, and federal programs in technology-based economic development to maximize their combined impact
- Provide export assistance to build upon the National Export Initiative, which seeks to double U. S. exports by 2015.
- Increase export support for U. S. manufacturers through the Export-Import Bank loans
In the past eight years since the National Summit on Competitiveness in 2005, there has been a summit or conference held every year on the topic of revitalizing American manufacturing. A first Conference for the Renaissance of American Manufacturing was held in September 2010, and a second Conference on the Renaissance of American Manufacturing: Jobs and Trade was held on March 27, 2012. This conference focused on solutions to the decline of manufacturing in America and highlighted manufacturing and trade issues.
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report, “Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing,” in July 2012, prepared by the Advance Manufacturing Partnership Working Group, which makes 16 specific recommendations for policies to enable the United States to resume its leadership in the manufacturing industry and strengthen our position in advanced manufacturing technologies.
We need a committee that will review the many recommendations on a national manufacturing strategy we already have and select the ones that will have the most impact in enabling the United States to have a real renaissance in the manufacturing industry. Since a similar bill has passed the House two out of three times since 2010, it is time for the Senate to pass this legislation and “stop fiddling while Rome burns.” We need real leadership in action, not just words. Contact your Congressional representative to ask them to cosponsor the bill and urge your Senator to bring it to a vote in the Senate after it passes the House.