Archive for the ‘Taxes/Regulations’ Category

Manufacturing in Golden State Summit shows how to make California Thrive

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

On March 19th, over 100 business leaders met at the community center of the City of Brea in Orange County for the “Manufacturing in the Golden State – Making California Thrive” economic summit. The summit was hosted by State Senator Mark Wyland in partnership with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and many other regional businesses and associations. The purpose of the summit was to discuss how our national trade policies and tax policies are harming California manufacturers and what policies should be changed to help them grow and thrive.

After State Senator Wyland welcomed attendees, Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, provided an overview of the schedule for the day.

I provided an overview of California manufacturing in which I briefly discussed the history of manufacturing in California, pointing out that California is the 8th largest market in world and ranks first in manufacturing for both jobs and output. Manufacturing accounts for 12.5 % of the California’s Gross State Product and 9% of California jobs. California leads the nation in monies spent on R&D, and California companies received over 50% of all Venture Capital dollars invested in the U. S. in 2011. California’s high-tech exports also ranked first nationwide, totaling $48 billion in 2011.

California dropped to 50th in ranking for its business climate by the Small Business Entrepreneur Council Survival Index of 2013 because of its high personal and corporate income & capital gains taxes, its high gas and diesel taxes, high state minimum wage, high electric utility costs, high workers’ compensation costs, and stringent environmental and air quality regulations.

As a result, California lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since the year 2001, which represents 33.3% of its manufacturing industry. I mentioned that all of us had undoubtedly heard the latest ad by Texas Governor Rick Perry touting that 50 California companies had relocated to Texas in the last two years.

I then moderated a panel of the following local manufacturers, who gave their viewpoints of the challenges of doing business in California:

  • Bob Lane, President, laneOPX
  • Dana Mitchell, President, Advanced Mold Technology Inc.
  • Tim Nguyen, President, Alva Manufacturing
  • Nick Ventura, Co-founder WearVenley.com

Ms. Mitchell, Mr. Nguyen, and Mr. Ventura highlighted the difficulty in competing against Chinese prices and finding skilled workers. Their other comments provided examples of some of the above-cited disadvantages of doing business in California.

Dr. Greg Autry, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, led off the national panel with the topic of “Currency Valuation and National Security Concerns with the Current U.S. Trade Regime.” He began by showing the falsity of classical  assumptions behind “free trade” by Ricardo and Hume ? absolute advantages are non-transferable, there are no externalities, such as pollution and military expenses, trade is in kind, there are no fiat currency distortions, and no strategies that are time constrained.

Autry then discussed the currency manipulation models of Japan and China, showing how China’s currency manipulation affects our national security. While China has adjusted the valuation of their renminbi (yuan) slightly since they drastically devalued it in 1994, it has still not reached the level that it was at that time. To keep their currency valuation low they either keep the dollars they get from their trade surplus in reserve or buy U. S. Treasury bonds. The dollars they earn from our trade imbalance and the interest they earn from buying our debt in the form of bonds has funded the dramatic buildup of their military.

Our technical superiority in military systems will not assure our national security any more than the technical superiority of Nazi Germany’s aircraft and tanks did for them. Economic superiority is what matters. The manufacturing industry of the U. S. out produced Germany during WWII and the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Autry stated, “An economy that builds only F-35s is unsustainable – productive capacity is what wins real wars. Sophisticated systems require complex supply chains of supporting industries. They require experienced production engineers and experienced machinists.” He concluded that we cannot rely on China to produce what we need for our military and defense systems. We should not be relying on Russia’s Mr. Putin to launch our satellites and space vehicles and provide us a seat to get to the international space station.

Next, Michael Stumo presented “Can Consumption Taxes Create Jobs and Help Regain American Prosperity?” He said, “America has no strategy to win… in terms of being a successful producing and exporting nation. Growing exports, expanding two-way trade, and establishing global supply chains makes us losers.Unilateral trade disarmament makes us losers.We should want to win and not be ashamed of pursuing our national interest.”

Stumo described the math about how a consumption tax could reduce our income tax burden, include imports in our tax base, and shrink the trade deficit, and increase U.S. production while maintaining progressivity. He explained that our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) equals Consumption plus Investment plus Government Procurement plus Net Exports (Total exports minus Total Imports). Because our imports exceed exports, our economy is smaller than it would be if the U.S. balanced trade.

More than 150 countries have a form of consumption tax, either a goods and services tax (GST) or a value added tax (VAT), with an average 17% level. These countries rebate these taxes on their exports, which is a subsidy. The taxes are “border adjustable” because they act as a 17% tariff on our goods sent to other countries.

After NAFTA, Mexico replaced its tariff reduction by establishing a 15% VAT, and Central America did the same, establishing a 12% VAT after CAFTA. Other countries use consumption taxes to offset income, payroll, or other employer taxes to help their manufacturers be more competitive in the global marketplace or to offset other costs like national health care or pension programs.

These border adjustable consumption taxes have been a causative factor in increasing our trade deficits with our trading partners, which was $471.5 billion in 2013, $318 billion with China alone. CPA advocates changes in U. S. trade policy to address this unfairness which tremendously distorts trade flows. The goal of a U. S. consumption tax should be:

  • Neutralize foreign tax (tariff/subsidy) advantage
  • Reduce non-border adjustable taxes: Income and/or Payroll
  • Replace them with border adjustable consumption taxes like a GST
  • Be revenue neutral
  • Be distribution/progressivity neutral
  • Minimize fight over exemptions, deductions, and location of profits

Pat Choate (Economist; Author, Saving Capitalism: Keeping America Strong) covered the importance of protecting Intellectual Property to the future of American manufacturing. He said that the U. S. is the most innovative country in the world, issuing more patents than any other country, and California represents 25% of all U. S. patents. Choate highlighted how our current trade policies do not address patent infringement, trademark counterfeiting, and the outright theft of our trade secrets by China and other Asian countries. The intellectual property clauses of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would exacerbate the problems already created by the passage of the America Invents Act in 2012 converting the U. S. from a “first-to-invent” to “first-to-file” that has hurt our innovation. Any future trade agreement must address intellectual property theft.

The next speaker was Mike Dolan, Legislative Representative for the Teamsters, who has long experience working for Fair Trade (fighting expansion of the job-killing NAFTA/WTO model). If we build and maintain a strong bipartisan mobilization, we can stop Fast Track trade authority from being granted to the President and stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreements from being passed. Dolan called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” said that TTIP is just as bad. Dolan concluded that the path to victory on sensible trade policy is not possible without the Coalition for a Prosperous America and the constituencies it represents — small business, particularly in industries that are sensitive to trade fluctuations, family farmers and ranchers, working families and “trade patriot” activists including Tea Party groups.

Keynote speaker Dan DiMicco, Chairman Emeritus of Nucor Steel Corporation, spoke about “Seizing the Opportunity.” He led off by shocking the audience with facts about the real state of our economy and our unemployment rate. By December 2013, we still had not reached the level of employment that we had when the recession began in December 2007 although 72 months had passed. We lost 8.7 million jobsfrom December 2007 to the “trough” reached in February 2010, but because our recovery has been much slower than the previous recessions of 1974, 1981, 1990, and 2001, the gap in recovery of jobs compared to these recessions is actually 12,363 jobs.  

In contrast to the misleading U-3 unemployment rate of 6.7% for December that is reported in the news media, the U-6 rate was 13.1%.  The government’s U-6 rate is more accurate because it counts “marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.” However, the actual unemployment is worse because the participation in the workforce has dropped from 66.0% to 62.8%. In other words, if the December 2013 Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate was back to the December 2007 level of 66.0%, it would  add 7.9 million people to the ranks of those looking for jobs.The manufacturing industry lost 20% of its jobs, and the construction industry lost 19% of its jobs.

Unemployment Data Adjusted For Decline in Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate
(Adjusted For Decline from December 2007 Level Of 66.0% to 62.8% in December 2013)

Reported Unemployed U.S. Workers 10,351,000
Involuntary Part-time workers 7,771,000
Marginally Attached To Labor Force Workers 2,427,000
Additional Unemployed Workers With 66% CLF Participation Rate 7,896,000

 

Unemployed U.S. Workers In Reality 28,445,000
Adjusted Civilian Labor force 162,833,000
Unemployment Rate In Reality 17.5%

We got in this position from 1970 until today because of failed trade policies allowing mercantilism to win out against true FREE Trade. We bought into wrongheaded economic opinions that America could become a service-based economy to replace a manufacturing-based economy. Manufacturing supply chains are the Wealth Creation Engine of our economy and the driver for a healthy and growing middle class! The result has been that manufacturing shrank from over 30% to 9.9% of GDP causing the destruction of the middle class. It created the service/financial based Bubble Economy (Dot.com/Enron/Housing/PONZI scheme type financial instruments.)

In addition, we have had 30 years of massive increases in inefficient and unnecessary Government regulations. These regulations, for the most part, in the past have been put in place by Congress and the Executive Branch. However, today they are increasingly being put in place by unelected officials/bureaucrats as they intentionally by-pass Congress.

American’s prosperity in the 20th century arose from producing more than it consumed, saving more than it spent, and keeping deficits to manageable and sustainable levels. Today, America’s trade and budget deficits are on track to reach record levels threatening our prosperity and our future.

Creating jobs must be our top priority, and we need to create 26-29 million jobs over the next 4-5 years. There are four steps we can take to bring about job creation:

  • Achieve energy independence,
  • Balance our trade deficit,
  • Rebuild our infrastructure for this century.
  • Rework American’s regulatory nightmare

We need to recapture American independence through investment in our country’s people, infrastructure, and energy independence, and by reversing the deficit-driven trends that currently define our nation’s economic policy. In conclusion, DiMicco said, “Real and lasting wealth IS, and always has been, created by innovating, making and building things — ALL 3 ? and servicing the goods producing sector NOT by a predominance of servicing services!”

Now is the time for all Americans to put aside their political differences and work together to restore California to the Golden State it once was and restore the United States to the land of opportunity it once was.

CPA’s Legislative Fly-in was a Resounding Success!

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Last week, I attended the annual Coalition for a Prosperous America’s legislative fly-in to Washington, D.C. for the second time. My fellow CPA members and supporters came from California to New England and from Washington State to Florida, and we met with over 100 Congressional and Senate offices. As chair of the California chapter, I headed up one of the two teams from the western United States, and my team met with Congressional staff and one Congressmen at a dozen offices. It was obvious that CPA’s influence is growing as we had more scheduled appointments than last year, and our appointment times were twice as long.

We delivered the message that balanced trade needs to be at the forefront of our national strategy. We now have a trade deficit with 88 countries, and our trade deficit with every one of our trading partners is worse than it was prior to concluding trade agreements with these countries. In 2013, we had a trade deficit in goods of $703.2 billion and services, but because we still have a trade surplus in services, our deficit in goods and services went down to $471.5 billion. One problem with services is that many of the services we now export are services being performed for American manufacturers that have set up manufacturing plants in other countries. An additional problem is that over 40% of our trade deficit is with China alone, and this is unsustainable.

Since our U. S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the sum of Consumption plus Investment plus Government Procurement plus Net exports (exports – imports), our trade deficit reduces our GDP. For example, in 2011, our GDP was $15,094.4 trillion, and our trade deficit shaved 4% off our GDP (14% share of GDP for exports minus 18% share of GDP for imports.)

“Our members reported a major improvement this year in congressional willingness to reconsider bad trade policy,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. “We were effective in countering the relentless efforts by the wealthy special interest groups who work hard to offshore our industries, our jobs and our sovereignty. The Administration’s efforts to push outdated, economy-killing concepts of trade policy has been stonewalled by the left and the right in Congress. Now they are in disarray.”

“It has become impossible to defend the current neo-liberal trade policy which ignores balance of trade,” continued Stumo. “We will start pushing that concept harder this year as we work with Congressional allies.”

I was happy to see that Congressional offices showed a heightened sensitivity to preserving states rights, American national sovereignty, and legislative branch authority over trade. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated would allow foreign tribunals to pass judgments on “investment agreements” between the U. S. federal government and investors from TPP nations. This would make the laws and policies of the 50 states to be subject to  international tribunals rather than our Congress and judicial system.

Also, the TPP would create binding policies on future Congresses as it pertains to patent and copyright laws, land use, food and agriculture, and product standards. It would also govern our nation’s policies concerning natural resources, the environment, labor laws, and government procurement policies, along with financial, health care, energy, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.

“Congress is increasingly loathe to transfer its authority over trade and domestic policy to the executive branch and give up its right to full transparency and amendments,” said Stumo. “Trade negotiators have steadfastly refused to pursue balanced trade, a fix for currency manipulation, and multiple other changes to fix the mistakes of the past.”

I have written the following four articles in the past year that were published on the Huffington Post regarding the dangers of the TPP as currently negotiated:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Would Destroy our National Sovereignty” (March)

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Would Hurt American Manufacturers” (May)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement Would Harm Our Environment” (July)

Why we must stop Fast Track Authority from being granted” (January 9, 2014)

In addition to pointing out the harm that has been caused by our current trade policies and what is wrong with the TPP, we presented CPA’s “Principles for a 21st Century Trade Agreement:  Fixing Past Mistakes,” which advocates trade strategies that would create “Smart Trade not Dumb Trade.” Congress should require that future trade agreements provide:

Balanced Trade:  Trade agreements must contribute to a national goal of achieving a manageable balance of trade over time.

National Trade, Economic and Security Strategy: Trade agreements must strive to optimize

value added supply chains within the U.S. – from raw material to finished product – pursuant to a national trade and economic strategy that creates jobs, wealth and sustained growth. The agreements must also ensure national security by recapturing production necessary to rebuild America’s defense industrial base.

Reciprocity: Trade agreements must ensure that foreign country policies and practices as well as their tariff and non-tariff barriers provide fully reciprocal access for U.S. goods and services. The

agreements must provide that no new barriers or subsidies outside the scope of the agreement nullify or impair the concessions bargained for.

State Owned Commercial Enterprises: Trade agreements must encourage the transformation of state owned and state controlled commercial enterprises (SOEs) to private sector enterprises. In the interim, trade agreements must ensure that SOEs do not distort the free and fair flow of trade -

throughout supply chains – and investment between the countries.

Currency: Trade agreements must classify prolonged currency undervaluation as a per se violation of the agreement without the need to show injury or intent.

Rules of origin: Trade agreements must include rules of origin to maximize benefits for U.S. based supply chains and minimize free ridership by third parties. Further, all products must be labeled or marked as to country(s) of origin as a condition of entry.

Enforcement: Trade agreements must provide effective and timely enforcement mechanisms, including expedited adjudication and provisional remedies. Such provisional remedies must be permitted where the country deems that a clear breach has occurred which causes or threatens injury, and should be subject to review under the agreements’ established dispute settlement mechanisms.

Border Adjustable Taxes: Trade agreements must neutralize the subsidy and tariff impact of the border adjustment of foreign consumption taxes.

Perishable and Cyclical Products: Trade agreements must include special safeguard mechanisms to address import surges in perishable and seasonal agricultural product markets, including livestock markets.

Food and Product Safety and Quality: Trade agreements must ensure import compliance with

existing U.S. food and product safety and quality standards and must not inhibit changes to or improvements in U.S. standards. The standards must be effectively enforced at U.S. ports.

Domestic Procurement: Trade agreements must preserve the ability of federal, state and local

governments to favor domestic producers in government , or government funded, procurement.

Temporary vs. Permanent Agreements: Trade agreements must be sunsetted, subject to renegotiation and renewal. Renewal must not occur if the balance of benefits cannot be restored.

Trade negotiators agree to language based upon expectations and judgment in pursuit of national goals.

Labor: Trade agreements must include enforceable labor provisions to ensure that lax labor standards and enforcement by contracting countries do not result in hidden subsidies to the detriment of U.S.-based workers and producers.

We CPA members also delivered a petition signed by over 80 liberty groups across the country objecting to Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership on constitutional grounds. “Tea Party and other liberty organizations have learned how American sovereignty is at risk as we transfer domestic authority to international governance systems and tribunals,” continued Stumo. “They are not fooled by phony free trade claims as a rationale to permanently give up our sovereignty.”

After this legislative fly-in, the outlook is more promising that CPA will be successful in forging a new consensus on trade and economic policy that balances trade, creates jobs, grows our economy and protects American sovereignty. It was a pleasure to take advantage of my rights as a citizen to express my opinions and those of an organization of which I am a member to our elected representatives. You can help ensure that this success happens sooner than later by supporting the Coalition for a Prosperous America.

Why Manufacturing is Critical to California’s Economy

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

For every one job created in manufacturing, at least two to three jobs are created to support the sector. Further, manufacturing firms create regional wealth by producing a product that is exported to other states and countries. This attracts additional funds to the region — creating business, individual and community wealth. Because of this ripple effect, manufacturing firms have a deeper impact on the state of the economy than most other industries.

California is the number one state for manufacturing jobs, firms and output – accounting for 11.7 percent of the total U. S. output, and employing 9 percent of the U. S. manufacturing workforce. California manufacturing generates $229.9 billion, more than any other state. Manufacturing is California’s most export-intensive activity contributing significantly to California’s $159 billion in exports in 2011. Overall, manufacturing exports represent 9.4% ($120 billion in goods) of California’s GDP, and computers and electronic products constitute 29.3% of the state’s total manufacturing exports. More than one-fifth (21.9%) of all manufacturing workers in California directly depend on exports for their jobs.

Since January 2001, the manufacturing sector lost 33% of its job base, down from 1.86 million jobs in 2001 to 1.237 million jobs in 2019. In 2010, the manufacturing sector began adding employment, regaining 7,900 jobs. California exports have also increased — up from $104 billion of manufactured goods in 2009 to $124 billion in 2010.

A 2011 report by the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) at El Camino College and the Center Of Excellence (COE) of the Los Rios Community College District identified the following 17 cluster industries in California:

  •  Aerospace Manufacturing
  • Biotechnology, Medical Devices, & Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
  • Building Materials Manufacturing
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Computers/Electronics Manufacturing
  • Dental Equipment, Supplies & Laboratories Manufacturing
  • Fashion/Clothing Manufacturing
  • Furniture Manufacturing
  • Household Products Manufacturing
  • Machinery Manufacturing
  • Metals Manufacturing
  • Paper Products Manufacturing
  • Petroleum Manufacturing
  • Plastic Products Manufacturing
  • Printing and Publishing
  • Transportation Manufacturing

 The report states, “With the exception of food manufacturing, biotechnology, dental equipment, and petroleum, nearly every manufacturing cluster in California has shed jobs over the last five years [2006-2011.] Building materials lost the most jobs with a decline of 32%, followed by printing (22%), and computers/electronics (10%).”

Challenges

The report states that the “manufacturing sector must address a variety of challenges, from navigating a complex regulatory environment to developing strategies to compete with low cost economics. There are a number of factors that have inhibited the manufacturing sector’s ability to compete locally and internationally.” Some of these challenges are:

  • California’s regulatory climate is difficult, expensive and time consuming to navigate
  • Higher health care expenditures compared to countries where health care is paid for by general tax revenues
  • Higher salaries and other benefits, such as paid leave, insurance, and retirement plans
  • Higher costs associated with litigation claims
  • Higher costs associated with environmental compliance;
  • Higher corporate tax rates than most other countries (the United States’ tax rate is 40%, the second highest tax rate among major trading partners.)

Opportunities

Competition from low-cost economies, such as China, India, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam, is one of the major challenges faced by the manufacturing sector. However, the total cost of outsourcing to other countries is often miscalculated. According to the Reshore Initiative, the true cost of manufacturing outside of the United States does not include costs associated with:

  •  National policy issues (trade negotiations, etc.)
  • Changes in currency exchange rates
  • Intellectual Property theft
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Lengthy delivery times
  • Traveling to the manufacturing site to assess and resolving production issues

Further, in the last few years many countries have started to raise their prices to adjust for increases in wages and higher transportation/fuel expenses. By examining the total cost of outsourcing, the Reshore Initiative argues that hiring local production firms is just as price sensitive as hiring firms from low-cost economies. Also, there are several benefits to working local, such as:

  •  Improved quality and consistency of inputs
  • Ability to create just-in-time operations that reduce inventory and shipping costs and improve business-to-business relations
  • Intellectual property security
  • Faster delivery to customers

As this viewpoint has gained popularity, it has started to shift production back to the United States, creating jobs and wealth in the process. By 2013, the Reshoring Initiative estimated that about 80,000 jobs returned to the United States through reshoring, about 15% of the nationwide increase of 526,000 manufacturing jobs since 2010.

If you are in the southern California region, you can find out more about how we can help the manufacturing industry thrive in California by attending the “Manufacturing in the Golden State – Making California Thrive” economic summit on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM.

This leadership summit will explore how to grow manufacturing jobs and businesses in California. National experts and local business owners will present the best solutions to help craft a successful growth strategy. 

Where:  Brea Community Center, 1 Civic Center Circle, Brea, CA 92821

Keynote Speaker:   Dan DiMicco, Chairman Emeritus, Nucor Steel Corporation

Speakers/Topics:

* Dr. Greg Autry – Senior Economist, Coalition for a Prosperous America; Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California (Trade Reform)
* Pat Choate – Economist; Author, “Saving Capitalism: Keeping America Strong” (Manufacturing Strategy)
* Mike Dolan – Legislative Representative, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Currency Manipulation) (invited)
* Michael Stumo – CEO, Coalition for a Prosperous America (Tax Reform)

Panel of local business leaders (partial listing):

* Michele Nash-Hoff – Chair, Coalition for a Prosperous America CA Chapter; President, ElectroFab Sales (Overview of California Manufacturing)

*Dana Mitchell, Advanced Mold Technology Inc.
* Nick Ventura – Co Founder, Venley by Youth Monument

Presented by:  Senator Mark Wyland, in partnership with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and other regional businesses and associations.

Cost: Early Bird Rate $25 through March 5, 2014; $35 thereafter (Includes light breakfast and full lunch)

 Sponsors:

City of Brea

ATE Corporation (ATEC)

California Manufacturing Technology Consulting

Industrial Metal Supply Company

Event partners
APICS – Orange County Chapter

Brea Chamber of Commerce

Corona Chamber of Commerce
Cypress Chamber of Commerce

Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce

Fullerton Chamber of Commerce
Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce
Global Innovative Systems

La Habra Chamber
PlanetTogether

Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Orange County SBDC
Riverside County Manufacturers & Exporters Association
West Orange County Regional Chamber
Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce

Register today for this important event.

For more information, or if you are unable to pay online, contact Sara Haimowitz (202-688-5145, s...@prosperousamerica.org).

Also: click here to find out about becoming an event sponsor!

Thanks,

Michele Nash-Hoff, Chair
California Chapter of the Coalition for a Prosperous America

 

Deadly Food Products Coming to a Store Near You?

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

For the last several years, there has been one story after another about tainted or even deadly food or ingredients to human and pet food coming from China. The two latest stories were  the jerky treats that caused hundreds of pet deaths and the laundering of honey coming from China by a German importer. However, the majority of Americans are blissfully ignorant of the origin of many of the food products stocked in their neighborhood stores. If they really knew the source of many of the products they buy, they would be horrified. The public outcry would be sufficient to put enough pressure on our elected officials to remedy the situation rapidly.

More than a hundred years ago, there was an exposé of the Chicago meat packing industry in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, followed by many other articles in the Progressive Era publications of the day. There was a huge public outcry. As a result, President Theodore Roosevelt sent labor commissioner Charles P. Neill and social worker James Bronson Reynolds to Chicago to make surprise visits to meat packing facilities. Although the meat packers were tipped off in advance about their visits, they saw enough revolting conditions at the meat packing plants to corroborate the claims of the many articles and submitted a report to the president and Congress.

As a result, the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 (FMIA) was passed by Congress and signed by President Theodore Roosevelt to prevent adulterated or misbranded meat and meat products from being sold as food and to ensure that meat and meat products are slaughtered and processed under sanitary conditions. All labels on any type of food had to be accurate (although not all ingredients were provided on the label). Even though all harmful food was banned, there were still few warnings provided on the container. USDA inspection of poultry was added by the Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957.

Also in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed into law the Pure Food and Drug Act, under which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) was formed as an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (abbreviated as FFDCA, FDCA, or FD&C) was passed by Congress in 1938 to replace the earlier Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and gave authority to the USFDA to oversee the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics. This Act has been expanded to include food coloring, food additives, bottled water, homeopathic products, and foods produced by genetic engineering and natural sources. Genetically modified food is regarded as containing a “food additive” and is subject to pre-market approval by the FDA if the protein added to the food by the genetic engineering process is not “generally recognized as safe.” On May 28, 1976, the FD&C Act was amended to include regulation for medical devices. The amendment required that all medical devices be classified into one of three classes.

The FDA is now responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs (medications), vaccines, cosmetics, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices (ERED), and veterinary products.

Six years ago, there was the biggest pet food recall in history when a Chinese producer contaminated dog and cat food with melamine, a compound used in plastics, causing the deaths of animals across the United States. The public outcry helped lead to the inclusion of animal food in the Food Safety and Modernization Act, a landmark food safety bill passed in 2010 that was the first major overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety laws since the 1930s. It gave the USFDA more control over food imports as well as broad new powers to set standards to prevent contamination of produce and processed food.

After the latest scandal regarding jerky treats for pets imported from China, the Food and Drug Administration published a proposed regulation on October 29th that would govern the production of pet food and farm animal feed for the first time. This would help prevent food-borne illness in both animals and people.

The problem with passing more regulations for the USFDA to handle is that it is grossly understaffed and underfunded for its complex and growing regulatory mission. The 2012 budget was only $4.36 billion, and the budget request for 2013 was $4.5 billion. About 45%, or $2 billion of the 2012 budget, is generated by user fees. Pharmaceutical firms pay the majority of these fees, which are used to expedite drug reviews.

The USFDA regulates more than 80% of America’s food supply and $1 trillion worth of consumer goods. Much of the expenditures are for goods imported into the United States. While the USFDA is responsible for monitoring a third of all imports, it only inspects less than 1% of food imports at the ports of entry. Many foreign countries such as China don’t have the same or any standards for source inspections that are required for food manufactured in the United States. They don’t have the same regulations against harmful pesticides and environmental pollution. Thus, importers are bypassing all of these inspections and regulations so can sell their products cheaper. This means that when you eat imported foods, you are playing the Chinese food version of “Russian roulette.”

We need to increase funding for the USFDA, and one simple way would be to require importers to pay a fee for screening of imports  to the USFDA for imports that are under its jurisdiction. This would enable the USFDA to add more staff to expand their inspection of imported goods, especially food imports.

You may be thinking that the U. S. Consumer Protection Agency is recalling food products that are determined by the USFDA to be contaminated or toxic, but you won’t find any food products listed if you go to their site to see the list of the products recalled for the month. This agency recalls manufactured products such as appliances, electrical goods, and toys, etc. The USFDA website lists all of the food, drug, and cosmetic recalls. No country of origin information is listed on the USFDA website. The Consumer Protection agency website has been revamped this year to make it more difficult to find out where a product is manufactured. Previously, you would see the list of products recalled, and the country of manufacture would be listed with the description of the product and why it was recalled. Now, it is a two-step process. On the first page, you see an image of the product and the reason why it was recalled, but no country is listed. You have to select finding products by country of manufacture to get the list for a particular country, such as China. Now, it would be more difficult to come up with how many products are coming from China compared to other countries.

The best solution for this problem would be for Congress to pass a law requiring country-of-origin labels for all human and pet food products similar to the nutritional information labels now required on packaged food products so consumers can see where their food is coming from. San Diego entrepreneur and businessman, Alan Uke has proposed what he calls a “Transparent Label.” in his book, Buying America Back:  A Real-Deal Blueprint for Restoring American Prosperity. He wants such a label for all manufactured products, which would include food for humans and pets. He feels that it is important for consumers to “see the last place where the product was manufactured” and “to discern what portion of its components came from other places.” In the case of food, it should include country-of-origin for all of the major ingredients so that consumers would be able to make decisions on whether or not they want to buy a product based on the origin of the major ingredients.  Mr. Uke also recommends that consumers be provided the country of origin information they need at the point of sale whether at a store or online.

He points out that the current information provided on country of origin labels is “misleading, incomplete, inaccessible, or all of these…In order to support our economy and American industries, we must have easily accessible, clearly communicated, and truthful information about a product’s entire origins.” We desperately need to have such a “Truth in Origin” label.

Hundreds of American pets have been poisoned and died by tainted food products from China. American children have already been harmed by dangerous levels of lead and cadmium in toys. How many Americans must die from tainted Chinese products before Congress acts?

Decline in Capital Investment is Threat to American Innovation

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

In early October, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation released a report titled “Restoring America’s Lagging Investment in Capital Goods,” by Luke A. Steward and Robert D. Atkinson. The report analyzes trends in private sector investment in capital goods over the last three decades, investigates the causes of the current decline, and proposes policy reforms designed to spur increased investment growth. The authors warn that this serious decline in capital investment over the last decade is a key threat to economic growth.

The authors state, “Private capital investment is the primary means through which innovation, the key driver of economic growth, diffuses throughout the economy.” Business investment in equipment, software and structures grew by only 0.5 percent from 2000 and 2011 compared to an average of 2.7 percent between 1980 and 1989 and 5.2 percent per year between 1990 and 1999.

The authors make a strong case about why capital investment matters in developed, knowledge-based economies like the United States. While innovation powers long-run economic growth, the mere act of innovating is not sufficient to grow an economy. Innovation must diffuse through the economy by being adopted by other companies that seek to improve productivity or the quality of products or services. It is the purchase of machinery, equipment, and software by companies that is capital investment that spreads the innovation throughout the economy.

“Capital investment acts as a diffuser of innovation because innovation is embedded in new investment”  Industrial equipment such as engines, metalworking machinery, and materials handling equipment; transportation equipment like trucks and aircraft; construction machinery, agricultural or mining equipment are now “infused with highly advanced technologies, and each new generation is better than the last.”

After a comparison of neoclassical economies and neo-Keynesian economies with innovation economies such as the United States, they conclude that innovation economies require high rates of capital investment in order to be utilized. This innovation economy is also referred to as “the new growth theory, in which investment in new machinery, equipment and software spreads innovation. By high rates of investment, they do not mean a high amount of equipment, software and structures. They “mean that the capital stock is refreshed and replaced with newer and more productive machinery, equipment and software.” They write, “The value of investment is not in acquiring more machinery and equipment; it is in acquiring newer and more productive equipment… A high rate of investment enables innovations to swiftly spread through the economy, bestowing their economic benefits upon their users.”

The authors show that a second reason why “capital investment matters is that it has substantial ‘spillover’ benefits—that is, benefits not just for the firm making the investment, but also for the rest of society…Many economists acknowledge that investments in the production of innovation (such as R&D) have spillovers, and that this is why policies like the R&D tax credit are important. But fewer recognize that investments in new machines, equipment and software also have spillovers.”

The report continues with an analysis of capital investment trends, focusing on information processing equipment and software (IPES). While IPES assets grew at the very rapid rate of 681 percent compared to the next highest, transportation, at 69 percent from 1980 to 2011, the growth rate of even IPES stagnated in the decade of the 2000s.

The authors conclude: “This stagnation means that business investment rates are actually falling relative to the size of the economy…As a share of GDP, fixed investment was higher in the early 1980s—around 13 percent of GDP—than in any subsequent year. In 2011, fixed investment accounted for less than 10 percent of GDP. Given that it is investment that drives productivity growth, these statistics are sobering. Out of all the fundamental components of GDP—consumption, investment, government, and net exports—a fall in the relative magnitude of investment is the most worrying in terms of future economic performance.”

While equipment investment is far more important than investment in structures (buildings), in 2011, “the number of new manufacturing structures is no longer keeping pace with the depreciation of existing manufacturing structures, which, in turn, means that the real quantity of manufacturing facilities in the United States is shrinking…Between 2001 and 2011, the net stock of manufacturing structures fell by more than nine percent, a fall which, given investment’s continued decline, will also undoubtedly continue.”

A decline in value of manufacturing structures in the United States is only a symptom, not a driver, of a decline in the international competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing sector. The decline of “investment equipment and software investment is more of a driver of competitiveness, and thus its decline is far more ominous.”

Total business investment in equipment and software grew in the 1980s, boomed in the 1990s, and then stagnated in the 2000s. Between 1980 and 1991, equipment and software investment increased by 37 percent compared to just 2 percent between 2000 and 2011. This means that investment in equipment and software is falling relative to the size of the economy just like total investment.

The picture looks even worse when the IPES assets are removed from total equipment assets, leaving only assets such as industrial machinery and transportation equipment. “Instead of merely stagnant growth, non-IPES investment has declined over eight percent since 2000.”

The next section of the report compares investment in equipment and software by industry, showing that “the composition of investment went from being spread over a broad base of sectors, especially in the 1990s, to being concentrated in a few select sectors in the 2000s.” Industries such as trade and transportation, health, and management and professional services expanded slightly. “Manufacturing led in the 1980s and 1990s but was displaced in the 2000s by finance and real estate, much of that made in the ramp up to the financial collapse of 2008.”

Not only did business investment stagnate in the 2000s, but investment is “now much more concentrated in a few select domestic-serving services industries, and industries that once powered U.S. investment growth and global competitiveness are now falling behind,” such as computers and chemical products.

The investment trends in the computer and electronic products industry are even worse than other manufacturing sectors:  “a 36 percent decline in equipment and software investment since 2000.”

The authors propose two possible reasons for the causes of investment stagnation:

  1. Decline in the competiveness of U.S. traded-sector businesses on the global market that has been occurring, particularly over at least the past decade
  2. “Short-termism”—the obsession with the upcoming financial report rather than long-range planning—that pervades publicly traded businesses facing stockholder pressures

Numerous other reports have described the U.S. competitive decline over the past decade so this report just summarizes a few of the key points that have been made in other reports and previous articles I have written. The end result is that the United States has lost its attractiveness as a production location for manufacturing, and when those businesses move offshore to other countries, they take their investment along with them. In addition, fewer foreign firms are making investments here in the United States. Thus, investment declines in one industry sector after another.

With regard to “short-termism,” the authors mean “the pressure on companies by Wall Street to achieve short-term profits has all too often come at the expense of long-term investment.” In other words, executives are willing to “delay new investment projects in order to meet short-term earnings targets, even if it meant sacrifices in value creation.”

Atkinson and Steward urge policymakers to put in place new policies to encourage the private sector to restore investment rates and stem the decline and stimulate new investment and productivity growth. They recognize that the first step to addressing market short-termism is for Congress and the Obama administration to acknowledge and take the problem seriously, and the next step is to begin a detailed analysis of the problem. They recommend the following actions:

Establish a Task Force to Study Market Short-Termism and Recommend Policies to Ameliorate It ?  The White House should establish a task force, led by the National Economic Council, bringing together members of the Council of Economic Advisers and the Treasury Department, to study the causes and nature of short-termism and draft a set of recommendations to ameliorate it. “The task force should analyze all potential options for reigning in market short-termism, ranging from changes to tax law to corporate governance solutions to encouraging changes in the U.S. corporate cultures within business schools, corporate boardrooms and ‘Wall Street.’”

Establish a Tax Credit for Investing in Equipment and Software ?  Congress should enact an investment tax credit (ITC) to provide a 35 percent credit on all capital expenditures made above 75 percent of a base amount. The ITC would be modeled on the Alternative Simplified Research and Experimentation Tax Credit (ASC).

This report proves that as investment declines, economic growth declines, and as economic growth declines, the capital available for investment and demand for new investment declines. If this trend continues, innovation will slow, competitiveness will continue to decline, and productivity growth will weaken. I agree with the authors that “it is essential that policymakers make challenging this problem a top priority. The authors’ policy recommendations may not be the only solutions to the problem, but “many countries have similar policies in place already—they will at least put the United States on a more equal f

What are the Obstacles to More Companies Reshoring?

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

While there is still a debate about how much reshoring is actually taking place, there is no doubt it is happening, especially in the seven tipping-point industries that the Boston Consulting Group predicted would reshore:  transportation goods, appliances and electrical equipment, furniture, plastic and rubber products, machinery, fabricated metal products, and computers and electronics.

For example, we’ve read about General Electric reshoring appliances such as water heaters, washing machines, and refrigerators to a factory in Kentucky, and Caterpillar is opening a new factory in Texas to make excavators. And, yes, even furniture manufacturing is coming back. At the High Point Furniture Show in April 2012, where the Made in America Pavilion housed 50 U.S. manufacturers, Ashley Furniture announced that it was building a new factory in North Carolina. Lincolnton Furniture also announced they had broken ground on a new furniture factory.

Earlier this year, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said the company would invest $100 to build a factory in Texas to assemble Macintosh computers, which would include components made in Illinois and Florida, and rely on equipment produced in Kentucky and Michigan.

The results of February 2012 survey from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG),  showed that 37 percent of U.S. manufacturers with sales above $1?billion said they were considering shifting some production from China to the United States, and of the very biggest firms, with sales above $10 billion, 48% were considering reshoring. The factors they pointed to were not only that wages and benefits were rising in China, but the country is also enacting stricter labor laws and experiencing more frequent labor disputes and strikes.

According to BCG, pay and benefits for the average Chinese factory worker rose by 10% a year between 2000 and 2005 and speeded up to 19% a year between 2005 and 2010. Wages have been predicted to rise by 60% this year alone after additional strikes.

So, we might ask, “Why aren’t more companies reshoring? There are three main reasons:

  1. Most companies don’t conduct a Total Cost of Ownership Analysis when making a decision to outsource manufacturing.
  2. The United States has a high overall cost of manufacturing.
  3. There are still tax incentives to offshore manufacturing.

Total Cost of Ownership Analysis

In spite of the fact that I have spoken to hundreds and hundreds of people about the importance of doing a Total Cost of Ownership Analysis since my book came out in 2009, and Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative, has spoken to thousands and thousands of people since releasing his free Total Cost of Ownership Estimator™ in 2010, we have only reached a small portion of the people making the decisions about outsourcing.

Most manufacturing companies that have sourced and are still sourcing parts and products offshore don’t do a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis. They base their decisions largely on low pieces that are based on cheaper foreign-labor rates and government subsidies by the governments of foreign countries to their manufacturers as part of their country’s predatory mercantilist practices.

If a company chooses not to practice TCO, it will impact their success or failure in the long run. It would be better if more companies would move forward by utilizing the freely available TCO spreadsheets, such as the one developed by Harry Moser that will allow you to quantity even the hidden costs and risk factors of doing business offshore.

After doing a thorough TCO analysis on all of outsourced parts for your products, the next step is to build an integrated team will periodically refine and refresh the analysis. You can even expand the definition of TCO to include the physical length of the entire supply chain and the lead times associated with the entire process.

American manufacturers need to embrace the New Industrial Revolution recently written about in the June 11, 2013 Wall Street Journal by columnist John Koten. He wrote, “Welcome to the New Industrial Revolution – a weave of technologies and ideas that are creating a computer-driven manufacturing environment that bears little resemblance to the gritty and grimy shop floors of the past. The revolution threatens to shatter long-standing business models, upend global trade patterns and revive American industry.”

Koten quotes Michael Idelchik, head of advanced technologies at GE’s global research lab, who said, “The future is not going to be about stretched-out global supply chains connected to a web of distant giant factories. It’s about small, nimble manufacturing operations using highly sophisticated new tools and new materials.”

High Cost of Manufacturing in America

While the difference in labor rates between the U. S. and Asia is diminishing, the U. S. has the highest corporate tax rates now after Japan reduced their corporate tax rate last year. In addition, the U. S. has high health care costs that are getting worse instead of better under the Affordable Care Act, and the U. S. has the most stringent environment regulations in the world.

In his November 2011 column in Industry Week, Stephen Gold, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, wrote, “While manufacturers face a host of challenges, the data demonstrate that domestically imposed costs ? by commission or omission of government ? further undermine our ability to compete by adding at 20% to the cost of making stuff in the country…The single most significant drag on manufacturing competitiveness is the United States’ high corporate tax rate ?an average federal-state statutory rate of 40% that has not changed in decades.”

According to the second quarter 2013 survey of 317 manufacturers by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)/Industry Week, concerns over health care and insurance costs caused by the Affordable Care Act are mounting. Key survey findings include the following:  82.2 percent of manufacturers identified rising health care and insurance costs as their top challenge, an increase from 74.0 percent in the previous survey and 66.9 percent identified the unfavorable business climate due to taxes and regulation as an important challenge.

Other pressures for American manufacturers are revealed by the results of a joint survey conducted by MSC Industrial Supply Company and Industry Week Custom Research, nearly half (49.3%) of the manufacturing executives polled listed “raw material costs as one of the top market pressures, followed by “attracting and retaining talent” at 36.6%, “competition from countries offering lower costs” at 31.5%, and “expansion into new markets” at 31.0%. To help them be as competitive as possible in the global marketplace, 46% have implemented lean practices, and 26.5% have plans underway to implement lean.

Tax Incentives for Offshoring

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, the U.S. tax code provides the following deductions, offsets, tax credits and incentives to corporations to “offshore” their profits overseas:

Tax Havens ? “The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines a tax haven country as one that imposes no or low taxes, does not exchange information about economic activity and lacks economic transparency.” Tax havens are used by a majority of the largest American corporations.

Offshore Deferral ? U.S. citizens and corporations are supposed  to pay tax on income earned abroad, but  “multinational corporations are allowed to “defer” paying income tax on profits made overseas until — or if ever — those profits are repatriated back to the United States.” U.S. corporations take advantage of this offshore deferral rule by setting up subsidiaries in lower tax countries. Subsidiaries, even when they are wholly owned by a U.S. parent company, are not subject to U.S. taxation. The deferral clause has been in the tax code for more than half a century and has outlasted numerous reform efforts. A USA Today article states that in April 1961, President Kennedy asked Congress to rewrite tax provisions that “consistently favor United States private investment abroad compared with investment in our own economy.”

Profit Shifting ? A U.S. corporation can also avoid paying taxes on its income by shifting its income to its foreign subsidiary in a practice called profit shifting. “Profit shifting involves an accounting practice of transferring assets, such as intellectual property rights and patents, to subsidiaries in tax haven countries. All royalty income earned from these assets is booked by the foreign subsidiary and so is not subject to U.S. taxation.” This practice is particularly prevalent in the pharmaceutical and computer industries; for example, pharmaceutical company Merck made more than $9 billion in profits in 2010 but paid no U.S. taxes.

Earnings Stripping ? Earnings stripping is a practice in which a U.S. parent corporation undergoes a corporate inversion so that its foreign subsidiary in a tax haven country becomes the parent company and the U.S. corporation becomes the subsidiary. This “paper inversion” allows all of the corporation’s global income to be booked by its new foreign parent. In addition, the new foreign parent can “loan” money to its U.S. subsidiary. Because it is a debt of the subsidiary, the money is not taxable. What’s more, the interest on the “loan” that the subsidiary pays to the foreign parent is tax deductible in the United States for the subsidiary.

The same USA Today article states, “Corporate lobbyists say that any move to eliminate deferral would have to be packaged with a significant cut in the 35% corporate tax rate…Otherwise, the largest companies, facing an effective tax increase, would have an incentive to switch their legal residence to another country.” Obviously, no one would want large American corporations to move totally out of the U. S. so the only way to address this problem is to eliminate these tax loopholes while significantly reducing the corporate tax rates. We are long overdue for comprehensive tax reform for both personal and corporate taxes.

At the “Manufacturing in California – Making California Thrive” economic summit that was held on February 14th in San Diego, attendees voted regulatory reform and a national manufacturing strategy as the top two critical issues to be addressed. A national manufacturing strategy would encompass such issues as corporate taxes, intellectual property protection, trade reform, and other factors adding to the high cost of manufacturing in the U. S. If you have a strategy that supports manufacturing, it will alleviate these other issues. A Manufacturing Task Force was formed after the summit, of which I became chair. We have been visiting the elected representatives in our region to provide them with our Task Force report and make them more aware of the needs of American manufacturers. Now our Task Force is evolving into the California chapter of the Coalition for a Prosperous (CPA) which had facilitated the summit. CPA has established state chapters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Colorado and is developing chapters in Florida, Michigan, and New York. If you would like to support our work in California, please contact me at mich...@savingusmanufacturing.com or contact CPA at sara@prosperousamerica.org for involvement in other states.

American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act Would Develop National Manufacturing Strategy

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

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.

How we could Create Jobs while Reducing the Trade Deficit and National Debt

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

There are numerous ideas and recommendations on how we could create jobs but most job creation programs proposed involve either increased government spending or reductions in income or employment taxes at a time of soaring budget deficits and decreased government revenue. Other recommendations would require legislation to change policies on taxation, regulation, or trade that may be difficult to accomplish. The recommendations in this article focus on what could be done the fastest and most economically to create the most jobs while reducing our trade deficit and national debt.

Manufacturing is the foundation of the U. S. economy and the engine of economic growth. It has a higher multiplier effect than service jobs. Each manufacturing job creates an average of three to four other supporting jobs. So, if we focus on creating manufacturing jobs, we would be able to reduce the trade deficit and national debt at the same time.

The combined effects of an increasing trade deficit with China and other countries, as well as American manufacturers choosing to “offshore” manufacturing, has resulted in the loss of 5.7 million manufacturing jobs since the year 2000. If we calculate the multiplier effect, we have actually lost upwards of 17 to 22 million jobs, meaning that we have fewer taxpayers and more consumers of tax revenue in the form of unemployment benefits, food stamps, and Medicaid.

In 2012, the U.S. trade deficit with China reached a new record of $315 billion. According to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the trade deficit with China cost 2.7 million U.S. jobs from 2001-2011. The Department of Commerce estimates that each $1 billion in trade deficit translates to about 13,000 lost jobs, so the $738 billion trade deficit in goods for 2012 cost upwards of 9,599,200 jobs.

What Congress Could Do

First, Congress should enact legislation that addresses China’s currency manipulation. Most economists believe that China’s currency is undervalued by 30-40% so their products may be cheaper than American products on that basis alone. To address China’s currency manipulation and provide a means for American companies to petition for countervailing duties, the Senate passed S. 1619 in 2011, but GOP leadership prevented the corresponding bill in the House, H. R. 639, from being brought up for a vote, even though it had bi-partisan support with 231 co-sponsors. On March 20, 2013, Sander Levin (D-MI), Tim Murphy (R-PA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Mo Brooks (R-AL) introduced the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act in the House and a corresponding bill will be introduced in the Senate.

Second, Congress should strengthen and tighten procurement regulations to enforce “buying American” for all government agencies and not just the Department of Defense. All federal spending should have “buy America” provisions giving American workers and businesses the first opportunity at procurement contracts. New federal loan guarantees for energy projects should require the utilization of domestic supply chains for construction. No federal, state, or local government dollars should be spent buying materials, equipment, supplies, and workers from China.

My other recommendations for creating jobs are based on improving the competitiveness of American companies by improving the business climate of the United States so that there is less incentive for American manufacturing companies to outsource manufacturing offshore or build plants in foreign countries. The following proposed legislation would also prevent corporations from avoiding paying corporate income taxes:

  • Reduce corporate taxes to 25 percent
  • Make capital gains tax of 15 percent permanent
  • Increase and make permanent the R&D tax credit
  • Eliminate the estate tax (also called the Death Tax)
  • Improve intellectual property rights protection and increase criminal prosecution
  • Prevent sale of strategic U.S.-owned companies to foreign-owned companies
  • Enact legislation to prevent corporations from avoiding the U.S. income tax by reincorporating in a foreign country

It is also critical that we not approve any new Free Trade Agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trans-Atlantic Partnership that are currently proposed. The U.S. has a trade deficit with every one of its trading partners from NAFTA forward, so Free Trade Agreements have hurt more than helped the U.S. economy.

What States and Regions Could Do

State and local government can work in partnership with economic development agencies, universities, trade associations, and non-profit organizations to facilitate the growth and success of startup manufacturing companies in a variety of means:

Improve the Business Climate – Each state should take an honest look at the business climate they provide businesses, but especially manufacturers since they provide more jobs than any other economic sector. The goal should be to facilitate the startup and success of manufacturers to create more jobs. I recommend the following actions:

  • Reduce corporate and individual taxes to as low a rate as possible
  • Increase R&D tax credit generosity and make the R&D tax credit permanent
  • Institute an investment tax credit on purchases of new capital equipment and software
  • Eliminate burdensome or onerous statutory and environmental regulations

Establish or Support Existing Business Incubation Programs, such as those provided by the members of the National Business Incubation Alliance. Business incubators provide a positive sharing-type environment for creative entrepreneurship, often offering counseling and peer review services, as well as shared office or laboratory facilities, and a generally strong bias toward growth and innovation.

Facilitate Returning Manufacturing to America – The Reshoring Initiative,  founded by Harry Moser in 2010, has a  mission to bring good, well-paying manufacturing jobs back to the United States by assisting companies to more accurately assess their total cost of offshoring, and shift collective thinking from “offshoring is cheaper” to “local reduces the total cost of ownership.” The top reasons for U. S. to reshore are:

  • Brings jobs back to the U.S.
  • Helps balance U.S., state and local budgets
  • Motivates recruits to enter the skilled manufacturing workforce
  • Strengthens the defense industrial base

According to Mr. Moser, the Initiative has documented case studies of companies reshoring showing that “about 220 to 250 organizations have brought manufacturing back to the U.S….with the heaviest migration from China. This represents about 50,000 jobs, which is 10% of job growth in manufacturing since January 2010.”

State and/or local government could facilitate “reshoring” for manufacturers in their region by conducting Reshoring Initiative conferences to teach participants the concept of Total Cost of Ownership, how to use Mr. Moser’s free Total Cost of Ownership Estimator™, and help them connect with local suppliers.

Establish Enterprise Zones and/or Free Trade Zones: Enterprise Zones provide special advantages or benefits to companies in these zones, such as:

  • Hiring Credits – Firms can earn state tax credits for each qualified employee hired (California’s is $37,440)
  • Up to 100% Net Operating Loss (NOL) carry-forward for up to 15 years under most circumstances.
  • Sales tax credits on purchases of up to $20 million per year of qualified machinery and machinery parts;
  • Up-front expensing of certain depreciable property
  • Apply unused tax credits to future tax years
  • Companies can earn preference points on state contracts.

States located on international borders could also establish Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs), which are sites in or near a U.S. Customs port of entry where foreign and domestic goods are considered to be in international trade. Goods can be brought into the zones without formal Customs entry or without incurring Customs duties/excise taxes until they are imported into the U. S. FTZs are intended to promote U.S. participation in trade and commerce by eliminating or reducing the unintended costs associated with U.S. trade laws

What Individuals Could Do

There are many things we could do as individuals to create jobs and reduce our trade deficits and national debt. You may feel that there is nothing you can do as an individual, but it’s not true! American activist and author, Sonia Johnson said, “We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.”

If you are an inventor ready to get a patent or license agreement for your product, select American companies to make parts and assemblies for your product as much as possible. There are some electronic components that are no longer made in the U. S., so it may not be possible to source all of the component parts with American companies. There are many hidden costs to doing business offshore, so in the long run, you may not save as much money as you expect by sourcing your product offshore. The cost savings is not worth the danger of having your Intellectual Property stolen by a foreign company that will use it to make a copycat or counterfeit product sold at a lower price.

If you are an entrepreneur starting a company, find a niche product for which customers will be willing to pay more for a “Made in USA” product. Plan to sell your product on the basis of its “distinct competitive advantage” rather than on the basis of lowest price. Select your suppliers from American companies as this will create jobs for other Americans.

If you are the owner of an existing manufacturing company, then conduct a Total Cost of Ownership analysis for your bill of materials to see if you could “reshore” some or all of the items to be made in the United States. You can use the free TCO worksheet estimator to conduct your analysis available from the Reshoring Initiative at www.reshorenow.org. Also, you could choose to keep R&D in the United States or bring it back to the United States if you have sourced it offshore.

If enough manufacturing is “reshored” from China, we would drastically reduce our over $700 billion trade deficit in goods. We could create as many as three million manufacturing jobs, which would, in turn, create 9 – 12 million total jobs, bringing our unemployment down to 4 percent.

You may not realize it, but you have tremendous power as a consumer. Even large corporations pay attention to trends in consumer buying, and there is beginning to be a trend to buy ‘Made in USA” products. As a result, on January 15, 2013, Walmart and Sam’s Club announced they will buy an additional $50 billion in U.S. products over the next 10 years.

U.S. voters supported Buy America policies by a 12-to-1 margin according to a survey of 1,200 likely general election voters conducted between June 28 and July 2, 2012 by the Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research. The overwhelming support has grown since prior iterations of the same poll – Buy America received an 11-to-1 margin of support in 2011 and a 5-to-1 margin in 2010. A survey by Perception Services International of 1400 consumers in July 2012, found that 76% were more likely to buy a U.S. product and 57% were less likely to buy a Chinese product.

As a consumer, you should pay attention to the country of origin labels when they shop and buy “Made in USA” products whenever possible. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and ask the store owner or manager to carry more “Made in USA” products. If you buy products online, there are now a plethora of online sources dedicated to selling only “Made in USA” products. Each time you choose to buy an American-made product, you help save or create an American job.

In his book, Buying America Back:  A Real-Deal Blueprint for Restoring American Prosperity, Alan Uke, recommends Country of Origin labeling for all manufactured products that “puts control in the hands of American consumers to make powerful buying choices to boost our economy and create jobs,” as well as reduce our trade deficit. The labels would be similar to the labels on autos, listing the percent of content by country of all of the major components of the product. This Country of Origin labeling would enable American consumers to make the decision to buy products that have most of their content “made in USA.”

If every American would make the decision to buy American products and avoid imports as much as possible, we could make a real difference in our nation’s economy. For example, if 200 million Americans bought $20 worth of American products instead of Chinese, it would reduce our trade imbalance with China by four billion dollars. During the ABC World News series called “Made in America,” Diane Sawyer has repeatedly said, “If every American spent an extra $3.33 on U. S.-made goods, it would create almost 10,000 new jobs in this country.”

In conclusion, if we want to create more jobs, reduce our trade deficit and national debt, we must support our manufacturing industry so that it could once again be the economic engine for economic growth. Following the suggestions in this article could make the “Great American Job Engine” roar once again.

How do Obama and Romney Stand on Issues Affecting Manufacturing?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Both President Obama and Governor Romney have put the manufacturing industry as the cornerstone of their plans to strengthen the U.S. economy and revitalize business activity. How would their differing plans affect manufacturers, and which would provide the most benefits to the manufacturing industry?

Government has the most impact on the manufacturing industry with regard to its tax, regulation, energy, and trade policies, but budget priorities of an administration also have a powerful effect for the good or the bad. We will use these policies and priorities to compare the plans of President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Governor Romney’s plan is extracted from his “Believe in America – Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth” available on his website. President Obama’s plan is derived from his record and his “Blueprint for an America Built to Last,” released by the White House on January 24, 2012.

Taxes:  The more taxes a business pays, the less money a business has to grow the company, buy equipment, conduct R&D, expand into new markets, and hire more workers.

President Obama’s plans include:

  • Reduce overall corporate rate to 28 percent with an even deeper cut to an effective tax rate of 25 percent for corporations manufacturing in the U. S.
  • End tax breaks for outsourcing and provide a 20 percent tax credit for expenses of moving manufacturing operations back to America
  • Expand, simplify, and make permanent the R&D tax credit
  • Extend the 30 percent-Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit for clean energy manufacturing projects
  • Introduce a new Manufacturing Communities Tax Credit to encourage investments in communities affected by job loss
  • Reauthorize 100% expensing of investment in plants and equipment

Governor Romney’s proposal includes:

  • Reduce the overall corporate tax rate to 25 percent
  • Make permanent the R&D tax credit
  • Reduce the top individual tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent since most small businesses pay taxes at the individual level, not corporate taxes
  • Eliminate the Death Tax
  • Pursue a Fairer, Flatter, Simpler Tax Structure

Taxes on corporations and individuals will increase January 1, 2013 when the current tax rates that have been in effect for 11 years expire (referred to as the Bush tax cuts) and return to the higher rates in effect under President Clinton. There are additional taxes that will go into effect at the same time as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

As Governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007, Mitt Romney closed a $1.3 billion state budget deficit in 2004 without raising taxes by using a combination of funding cuts, fee increases, collection of more business taxes from eliminating tax loopholes, and drawing from the state’s “rainy day fund.”

Regulations:  Regulations function as a hidden tax on manufacturers. A multitude of rules, restrictions, mandates, and directives impose stealth expenses on businesses and acts like a brake on the economy at large. The federal Office of Management and Budget own study places the annual cost of regulation on the economy at $1.75 trillion, which is nearly double the total of all individual and corporate income taxes.

President Obama’s record:

  • The Federal Register’s compendium of new rules and regulations hit a record in 2010 of 81,405 pages with a projected annual cost of compliance of $26 billion.
  • In one month alone, July 2011, the Obama administration issued 229 proposed rules, 379 final rules, and 10 economically significant rules—totaling more than $9 billion in regulatory costs.
  • The over 2,000-page Dodd-Frank Act mandates 259 rules and suggests another 188.
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) may generate up to 10,000 pages of regulations to implement.
  • The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 produced federal restrictions on credit card companies that have led to higher interest rates, higher annual fees, and lower credit limits.

Governor Romney’s proposal:

  • Issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers for all 50 states and work with Congress to accomplish full repeal
  • Seek to repeal Dodd-Frank and replace it with a streamlined regulatory framework
  • Eliminate the regulations promulgated in pursuit of the Obama administration’s costly and ineffective anti-carbon agenda
  • Press Congress to reform our environmental laws and to ensure that they allow for a proper assessment of their costs
  • Order all federal agencies to initiate repeal of any regulations issued by the Obama administration that unduly burden the economy or job creation
  • Impose a regulatory cap that forces agencies to recognize and limit these costs
  • Restore a greater degree of congressional control over the agency rulemaking process

Trade: The U. S. had an overall trade deficit of $558 billion in 2011, but our deficit with China was $295.5 billion, and the combined deficit with Canada and Mexico rose to a combined $185 billion of the total. In fact, we have a trade deficit with 66 countries. Both President Obama and Governor Romney support current trade agreements and propose additional agreements.

President Obama – As a candidate in 2007 and 2008, he said, “there’s no doubt that NAFTA needs to be amended,” in December 2007 at the Des Moines Register debate, and at a June 2008 speech in Flint, MI, he said,” If we continue to let our trade policy be dictated by special interests, then American workers will continue to be undermined, and public support for robust trade will continue to erode.”

But as president, he pushed hard for passage of the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama, which were passed and signed in October 2011, all drafted on the NAFTA template. He has instructed his team at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to spearhead the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement involving nine Pacific region nations, including Vietnam and Brunei, two undemocratic countries with serious and well-documented human and labor rights problems.

Unlike his predecessors, he has imposed tariffs on imported Chinese products that have been determined to be “dumping, such as the 2009 tariff on imported Chinese tires, and the recent Commerce Department final determination of anti-dumping duties from just over 31 percent up to 250 percent on photovoltaic solar cells, and anti-subsidy duties of up to more than 15 percent were also recommended.

His Blueprint states that he will:

  • Create a new trade enforcement unit that will bring together resources and investigators from across the Federal Government to go after unfair trade practices in countries around the world, including China
  • Enhance trade inspections to stop counterfeit, pirated, or unsafe goods before they enter the United States
  • Put American companies on an even footing by providing financing to put our companies on an even footing.

Governor Romney – As a candidate, he supported the free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama and also calls for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in addition to new FTAs with nations such as Brazil and India.

Romney would pursue the “formation of a ‘Reagan Economic Zone.’ This zone would codify the principles of free trade at the international level and place the issues now hindering trade in services and intellectual property, crucial to American prosperity and that of other developed nations, at the center of the discussion.”

Romney proposes to get tough with China in the following ways:

  • Impose “targeted tariffs” or economic sanctions for unfair trade practices or misappropriated American technology
  • Designate China as a currency manipulator and instruct the Commerce Department to impose countervailing duties
  • Improve enforcement at the border by allocating the necessary resources to investigate the actual point of origin for suspect products arriving on our shores
  • Impose harsher penalties on those who would circumvent our laws

Energy:  The manufacturing industry both produces and uses energy; therefore, government policies affecting energy have a major impact on the growth, development, and financial position of manufacturers. Energy policy is critical to our country’s economic future, and we have the natural resources we need to be more energy independent.

President Obama’s plan:

  • Promote safe, responsible development of the near 100-year supply of natural gas, supporting more than 600,000 jobs while ensuring public health and safety
  • Incentivize manufacturers to make energy upgrades, saving $100 billion over the next decade
  • Create clean energy jobs in the United States

President Obama’s Track Record:

  • Imposed a moratorium in 2010 on underwater drilling that eliminated more than 10,000 jobs and cost $1 billion in lost wages.
  • Delayed the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring enormous supplies of Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta to the U. S and create an estimated 25,000 to 100,000 American jobs.
  • Proposed a cap-and-trade system that was a complex plan for allowing industries to trade the right to emit greenhouses gases, which failed to pass Congress.
  • Under Obama, the EPA has issued a 946-page hazardous air pollutants” rule mandating “maximum achievable control technology” under the Clean Air Act, which could put 250,000 jobs in jeopardy.
  • New regulations for industrial boilers—the so-called “Boiler MACT”—may put another 800,000 jobs at risk.

Governor Romney’s proposed energy policy focuses on significant regulatory reform, support for increased production, and funding basic research instead of specific technologies, including the following:

  • Streamline and fast-track the permitting process for exploration and development of oil and gas
  • Consolidate procedures for issuing permits so that businesses have a one-stop shop for approval of common activities
  • Overhaul outdated legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other environmental laws
  • Reform the regulatory structure of the nuclear industry
  • Inventory our nation’s carbon-based energy resources
  • Explore and develop our oil reserves wherever it can be done safely, taking into account local concerns, including the Gulf of Mexico, both the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves, Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, off the Alaska coast, and the more recently discovered shale oil deposits
  • Partner with  our neighbors Canada and Mexico to develop their oil reserves
  • Pave the way for the construction of additional pipelines that can accommodate the expected growth in Canadian supply of oil and natural gas
  • Extract natural gas by means of “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing, coupled for these purposes with horizontal drilling)
  • Redirect government funding of clean energy spending towards basic research and development of new energy technologies and on initial demonstration projects that establish the feasibility of discoveries

Manufacturing has been a key driver of what limited economic recovery we have had since 2009 and will play a major role in U.S. economic success in the future if it gets the right support. On the surface, Obama and Romney seem to have roughly the same economic goals – stimulate job creation, boost American competitiveness in the global market and drive down the deficit, but as we have seen, their plans for reaching these objectives differ greatly. I urge everyone to carefully compare their plans and what they have said and done before choosing for whom to vote. Don’t waste the precious freedom to vote that our ancestors risked or gave their lives to gain.

 

 

ITIF Report Details 50 Policies to Improve U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Last week, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a report titled, “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Competitiveness Woes Behind: A National Traded Sector Competitiveness Strategy,” by Stephen Ezell and Robert Atkinson in which they stated, “A comprehensive strategy aimed at strengthening U.S. establishments competing in global markets is needed for the United States to boost short-term recovery and long-term prosperity…”

“The United States is increasingly isolated in its belief that countries don’t compete with one another and that only firms compete” said ITIF Senior Analyst Stephen Ezell, co-author of the report. “Our traded sector establishments are up against competitors that are aided in countless ways by their governments. It’s time to level the playing field.”

The report, presents 50 federal-level policy recommendations to help restore U.S. traded sector competitiveness, along with 13 state-level recommendations. The recommendations are organized around federal policies regarding the “4Ts” of technology, tax, trade, and talent, as well as policies to increase access to capital, reform regulations, and better assess U.S. traded sector competitiveness.

A nation’s traded sector includes industries such as manufacturing, software, engineering and design services, music, movies, video games, farming, and mining, which compete in international marketplaces and whose output is sold at least in part to nonresidents of the nation. They are the core engine of U.S. economic growth and face unique challenges.

Because these industries face competition in the global market that non-traded, local-serving industries (retail trade or personal services) do not, their success is riskier. “The health of U.S. traded sector enterprises in industries such as semiconductors, software, machine tools, or automobiles—all far more exposed to global competition than local-serving firms and industries—cannot be taken for granted.”

If a company like Boeing loses market share to Airbus, thousands of domestic jobs at Boeing, its suppliers, and the companies at which their employees spend money will be lost. In contrast, a local grocery store may compete for business with other supermarkets, but it is not threatened by international competition. If Safeway loses market share to Wal-Mart, the jobs remain in the United States.

Ezell and Atkinson state, “The fact that the U.S. traded sector has not created a single net new job in 20 years is a core reason for the current U.S. economic malaise.” They cite the research of Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Spence, who has demonstrated that “from 1990 until the Great Recession started in 2007, the U.S. achieved virtually no growth in traded sector jobs. The malaise has been a downright decline in manufacturing, as the United States lost nearly one-third of its manufacturing workforce in the previous decade, saw on net over 66,000 manufacturing establishments close, accrued a trade deficit in manufactured products of over $4 trillion, and experienced a decline in manufacturing output of 11 percent at a time when U.S. GDP increased by 11 percent (when measured properly).”

Ezell and Atkinson corroborate what I have written previously ? “every lost manufacturing job has meant the loss of an additional two to three jobs throughout the rest of the economy. The 32 percent loss of manufacturing jobs was a central cause of the country’s anemic overall job performance during the previous decade, when the U.S. economy produced, on net, no new jobs….at the rate of growth in manufacturing jobs that occurred in 2011, it would take until at least 2020 for employment to return to where the economy was in terms of manufacturing jobs at the end of 2007.”

The reasons why the authors emphasize the importance of manufacturing as a “traded sector” are:

  • It will be difficult for the U. S. to balance its foreign trade without a robust manufacturing sector because manufacturing accounts for 86 percent of U.S. goods exports and 60 percent of total U.S. exports.
  • Manufacturing remains a key source of jobs that both pay well.
  • Each manufacturing job supports as an average of 2.9 other jobs in the economy.
  • The average wages in U.S. high technology are 86 percent higher than the average of other private sector wages.
  • Manufacturing, R&D, and innovation go hand-in-hand.
  • The manufacturing sector accounts for 72 percent of all private sector R&D spending.
  • Manufacturing employs 63 percent of domestic scientists and engineers.
  • U.S. manufacturing firms demonstrate almost three times the rate of innovation as U.S. services firms.
  • Manufacturing is vital to U.S. national security and defense.

They contend that “the engines of a nation’s competitiveness are in fact not mom and pop small businesses, but rather firms in traded sectors, high-growth entrepreneurial companies, and U.S.-headquartered multinational corporations. Although such firms comprise far less than 1 percent of U.S. companies, they account for about 19 percent of private-sector jobs, 25 percent of private-sector wages, 48 percent of goods exports, and 74 percent of nonpublic R&D investment. And, since 1990, they have been responsible for 41 percent of the nation’s increase in private labor productivity.”

The report notes that “traded sector businesses improve the local economy in three ways:

  1. Traded sector businesses bring money into a region by selling to people and businesses outside the region.
  2. They help keep local money at home through import substitution, which occurs when local residents and businesses purchase locally produced products instead of importing goods and services.
  3. They improve economic equity since “their productivity and market size tends to lead them to offer higher wage levels” and “jobs at traded sector companies help anchor a region’s middle class employment base by providing stable, living wage jobs for residents.”

While the authors believe all 50 recommendations are needed, they believe the 10 most critical recommendations are:

  1. Create a network of 25 “Engineering and Manufacturing Institutes” performing applied R&D across a range of advanced technologies.
  2. Support the designation of at least 20 U.S. “manufacturing universities.”
  3. Increase funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).
  4. Increase R&D tax credit generosity and make the R&D tax credit permanent.
  5. Institute an investment tax credit on purchases of new capital equipment and software.
  6. Develop a national trade strategy and increase funding for U.S. trade policymaking and enforcement agencies.
  7. Fully fund a nationwide manufacturing skills standards initiative.
  8. Expand high-skill immigration, particularly which focuses on the traded sector.
  9. Transform Fannie Mae into an industrial bank.
  10. Require the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to incorporate a “competitiveness screen” in its review of federal regulations.

Only two of their top 10 recommendations made the list of the most critical recommendations in the second edition of my book:  # 4 and # 10. However, I support all of their other top 10 recommendations, as well as many of their other 40 recommendations, especially the following:

  • Lower the effective U. S. corporate tax rate – As of April 1, 2012 (when Japan lowered its corporate tax rate), the United States took the mantle of having the highest statutory corporate tax rate at almost 39 percent (when state and federal rates are combined) of any OECD nation.
  • Combat foreign currency manipulation
  • Better support and align trade promotion programs to boost U. S. exports.
  • Better promote reshoring.

I also support their recommendation that Congress should broaden the R&D tax credit’s scope to make it clear that process R&D (R&D to develop better ways of making things) qualifies for the tax incentive and that Congress should expand the R&D credit to allow expenditures on employee training to count as qualified expenditures.

With regard to trade enforcement, they recommend that the U. S. “exclude mercantilist countries from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)” because “the top 20 GSP-beneficiary countries — Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela—are on the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 Watch List (which documents countries that fail to adequately protect U.S. companies’ or individuals’ intellectual property rights).”

I believe that enacting legislation to address foreign currency manipulation by China in particular should be in their top 10 recommendations. I also recommend that we enact legislation to establish either a Natural Strategic Tariff as recommended by economist Ian Fletcher in his book Free Trade Doesn’t Work:  What Should Replace It and Why, or a Balanced Trade Restoration Act to authorize sale of Import Certificates using either the Warren Buffet plan or the Richmans plan (as explained in their book Trading Away our Future).

I completely disagree with their recommendation to “Forge new trade agreements, including a high-standard Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trans-Atlantic Partnership.” As documented by Alan Uke in his book, Buying Back America, the U. S. has a trade deficit with nearly every single one of the countries with which it has a trade agreement. In fact, the U. S. has a trade deficit with 66 countries, the most egregious being the $278 billion deficit with China. Remember the touted benefits of NAFTA with Canada and Mexico? Well, in 2010, we had a trade deficit with Canada of $28 billion and $66 billion with Mexico. Do we want to increase our current trade deficit by adding more trading partners?

Additionally, the report articulates four key themes that the authors believe should be viewed as essential components of a U.S. traded sector competitiveness strategy. They recommend that the following key themes must be embraced by U.S. policymakers if the United States is to restore its traded sector competitiveness (summarized):

  1. The federal government must place strategic focus on its traded sectors, because it simply can’t rely entirely on its non-traded sectors to sustainably power the U.S. economy.
  2. The United States needs become much more of an engineering economy because gains from engineering-based innovation are capturable and appropriable within nations.
  3. The United States must move toward an economic system more focused on production than consumption, giving short-term consumption less priority in our politics.
  4. The structure of the global trading system must be seriously restructured to ensure that it is a trading system based on market-oriented principles and not the “innovation mercantilism” that has risen in the last decade, which fundamentally hurts the U.S. competitive position while violating the spirit and often the letter of the World Trade Organization.

Beyond federal policies to support traded sector competitiveness as a nation, the report also includes a section on recommended policies that states should implement to bolster their competitiveness, and in turn, the competitiveness of the broader U.S. economy. The state policy recommendations utilize the same “4Ts” framework as the federal recommendations.

Ezell and Atkinson state, “Implementing the policies recommended in this report will make the United States a more attractive investment environment for traded sector enterprises and their establishments. The technology policies will help spur innovation in advanced manufacturing, upgrade the technology capacity of manufacturing and other traded sector firms, help restore America’s industrial commons, and support the productivity, innovation, and competitiveness of traded sector SMEs. The tax policies will stimulate a favorable climate for private sector investment by making the overall U.S. corporate tax code more competitive with that of other nations and also by leveraging tax policy to incent private sector R&D and investment.”

In conclusion, they urge that U.S. policymakers understand that “manufacturing is not some low-value-added industry to be cavalierly abandoned.” Manufacturing is vital to U.S. competitiveness. I highly recommend reading all of this comprehensive, well-researched, well-documented report to be able to evaluate all of their recommendations and benefit from the details that are the basis for each recommendation.