Archive for the ‘Taxes/Regulations’ Category

“Manufacturing in Golden State Summit Highlights Threats to Prosperity”

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

On October 16th, about 130 business leaders met at the conference facilities of AMN Healthcare in San Diego for the third “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 a long list of other regional businesses and associations. The purpose of the summit was to discuss how several national and California policies are threatening the growth and prosperity of 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 update to the overview of California manufacturing that I had presented at our summit in Brea on March19th covered in a previous article. California lost 33.3% of manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2009 compared to 29.8% nationwide and 25% of its manufacturing companies. California lags in manufacturing job growth at a .36% rate compared to the national 6.09% rate.

I highlighted that the San Diego region offers a great deal of help for inventors and start-up technology based companies through the San Diego Inventors Forum, CONNECT’s Springboard program, the Small Business Development Centers in North County and South County, CleanTech San Diego, as well as groups like the San Diego Sports Innovators. San Diego also offers more career path and workforce training programs than most other states, including those offered by three of our event sponsors: California Manufacturing Technology Consulting, the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, and the Lean Six Sigma Institute.

The good news is that California is benefitting from the reshoring trend that is sweeping the county. According to data collected by the Reshoring Initiative, California ranks first in the number of companies (28) that have reshored and third in the number of jobs created by reshoring (6,014).

I then moderated a panel of the following local manufacturers, who gave their viewpoints of the effects of some of our national policies and the challenges of doing business in California:

  • James Hedgecock, Founder and General Manager of Bounce Composites
  • Scott Martin, President, Lyon Technologies
  • Robert Reyes, Head of Strategic Sourcing, Stone Brewing Company

Hedgecock stated that Bounce Composites is less than two years old and makes thermoset composites, starting with paddle boards and branching into small wind turbine blades this year. He bemoaned the fact that in California you have to pay $800 to incorporate a company, which is double to quintuple the cost of incorporating in other states. Also, as a LLC, you have to pay taxes on gross profits rather than net profits, which is tough on a start-up company.

Martin said that Lyon Technologies has been in business since 1915 and has changed its products several times over the years. Current products include bird and reptile incubators, poultry products, and veterinary products, which they export to about 100 countries. He stated that the Value Added Taxes (VATs) that are added to the products they export and the currency manipulation practiced by several countries make it difficult for their products to be competitive in the world marketplace.

Reyes said they are expanding out of San Diego and are building a new $25M brewery and restaurant in the Marienpark Berlin, scheduled to open by end 2015/beginning 2016. Stone exports beer to Germany and other European countries and having a brewery in Germany will ave on shipping costs for exporting. They are also planning on opening a brewery on the East Coast in Virgina.

The national expert panel included Greg Autry, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California; Pat Choate, economist and author, “Saving Capitalism: Keeping America Strong”; Mike Dolan, Legislative Rep., International Brotherhood of Teamsters; and Michael Stumo, CEO of CPA.  The focus of the talks was on national security, manufacturing growth strategies, tax strategies and fixing the trade deficit.

Autry, led off the national panel with the topic of “National Security Concerns with U. S. Trade Regime.” He began by stating, “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 added 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.”

He pointed out that 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 that Wall Street’s new hero, Jack Ma, founder of Chinese company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, is a danger to American interests by the fact that Alibaba just overtook Amazon as the world’s largest online retailer by market capitalization. It was the wealth he created at Amazon that enabled founder Jeff Bezos to now lead a new company, Blue Origin, which was just selected by the United Launch Alliance to finish development of a new engine to replace the Russian made RD-180 rocket engine used by ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket. There is considerable skepticism by many of Mr. Ma’s independence from the Chinese government. Mr. Ma’s next target appears to be PayPal, which is responsible for the wealth of Elon Musk, now CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors, and chairman of SolarCity.

Next, Michael Stumo presented “A Competitiveness Strategy for America: Balance Trade and Rebuild Domestic Supply Chains.” He said, “Our ultimate goals should be: improved standard of living, full employment, and durable, sustainable growth. America has no strategy to win. Our trade deficit cuts our growth in half. Domestic supply chains were sacrificed to global supply chains; i.e. offshored and hollowed out….We need a strategy to win.”

He pointed out that “free trade is supposed to produce balance and address foreign mercantilism, but our trade policies enable mercantilism…We must replace the goal of ‘eliminating trade barriers’ and have Congress establish a new directive via statue to balance trade.”

He said that to achieve balanced trade, we must address, reciprocity, currency manipulation, forced technology transfer [by China], foreign VAT rebates, state-owned enterprises, and government subsidies.

In conclusion, he recommended that we should:

  • Create durable comparative advantage through technical superiority, infrastructure, low energy costs, etc.
  • Balance trade and fight foreign mercantilism
  • Create our own comparative advantage
  • Maximize domestic value added
  • Identify and minimize our advantages while minimizing our disadvantages

In conclusion, he urged, “Don’t be afraid of asserting and pursing our national economic interest.”

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). He said that big corporations want Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority in the “lame duck” session to grant the president Fast track Authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreements. He called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and said that TTIP is just as bad. He said that Fast Track was invented by President Nixon and has been used 16 times. He said that we need a new form a Trade Promotion Authority where Congress has input with regard to the countries involved in the Agreement, certifies that negotiating goals were met, and votes to approve it before it is signed. He urged attendees to contact their Congressional Representative to oppose the TPP for the following reasons:

  • “Lack of transparency during negotiations warrants more thorough consideration than a up or down vote
  • Under previous trade deals, the U. S. has hemorrhaged jobs and cannot afford more of the same
  • The TPP is too large and complex to delegate constitutional authority away from Congress”

Pat Choate (Economist; Author, Saving Capitalism: Keeping America Strong) discussed how our trading partners have used Value Added Taxes (VATs), and currency manipulation to their advantage and to the disadvantage of the U. S. VATs or border adjustable consumption taxes are used by other countries 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. VATs range from a low of 10% to a high of 24%, for an average of 17%.

While tariffs have been dropped since 1968 as part of many trade agreements signed since then, the effective trade barriers have remained constant because of the VATs being imposed.

These 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. He supports CPA’s advocacy of making changes in U. S. trade policy to address this unfairness which tremendously distorts trade flows.

During lunch, keynote speaker Dan DiMicco, Chairman Emeritus of Nucor Steel Corporation, spoke on “Seizing the Opportunity.” He led off by shocking the audience with facts about the real state of our economy and our unemployment rate. By September 2014, we still had not reached the level of employment that we had when the recession began in December 2007 although 81 months had passed. We lost 8.7 million jobs from 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 5.9% for September 2014 that is reported in the news media, the U-6 rate was 11.8%. 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 62.7%. 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 8.2 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 September 2014)

Reported Unemployed U.S. Workers 9,262,000
Involuntary Part-time workers 7,103,000
Marginally Attached To Labor Force Workers 2,226,000
Additional Unemployed Workers With 66% CLF Participation Rate 8,199,000 
Unemployed U.S. Workers In Reality 26,770,000
Adjusted Civilian Labor force 166,287,000
Unemployment Rate In Reality 16.1%

 

DiMicco said, “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.)”

He added, “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.”

He said, “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.

In conclusion, DiMicco said, “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. 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!”

As the mid-term election approaches, we need to cast our votes for candidates who address the serious issues discussed at the summit, so that we can work together as Americans to restore California to the Golden State it once was and restore America to be “a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere,” as declared by Ronald Reagan in 1974.

Manufacturing Thrives in San Diego’s North County Region

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

On the morning of July 1st, the San Diego North Economic Development Council (SDNEDC) hosted a North County Manufacturing Executive Roundtable at the City of Vista Civic Center. Over 100 professionals were welcomed by County Supervisor Dave Roberts and Lee Morrison of Bank of America. Bank of America and The Eastridge Group of Staffing Companies sponsored the Roundtable.

In an interview prior to the event, KPBS Morning Edition anchor Deb Welsh spoke to Carl Morgan, CEO of the San Diego North Economic Development Council. Morgan said. “Manufacturing is alive and well in San Diego’s North County.” He said the manufacturing executive roundtable would discuss why companies chose to locate and stay in the region. Ms. Morgan asked him what North County’s six key industry clusters are, and he responded that “the sports and active lifestyle, clean technology, biotechnology and medical and informational technology “are doing very, very well” besides the craft and brew industry.

Reo Carr, executive editor of the San Diego Business Journal, moderated the panel, which also discussed such topics as reshoring of manufacturing, environmental concerns, filling the gap between education and manufacturers’ need for skilled labor, sufficient, accessible transportation, and the economic incentives that are and should be available.

The six panelists were: Clark Crawford, VP Sales and Business Development, Soitec Solar, which manufacturersconcentrated photovoltaic (“CPV”) solar modules; Christine Jensen, special programs coordinator at Mira Costa College, which offers classes in biotechnology, engineering, and machining; Jeffrey McCain, CEO, McCain, Inc, a pioneer of advanced traffic control equipmentas well as a contract manufacturer; Michele Nash-Hoff, President, ElectroFab Sales and Chair, California Chapter of the Coalition for a Prosperous America; Chris Roth, vice president, Lee & Associates, the Nation’s largest broker owned commercial real estate services firm.; and Martin Wood, CEO, Delkin Devices, the largest US memory card manufacturer.

Crawford said that when his company (Soitec Solar Industries headquarted in Grenoble, France) decided to set up another manufacturing plant in the U.S., they were wooed to come to many states, including Texas, but they chose to move to California because California’s GO-Biz worked with them to identify possible site locations around the state and to define all statewide incentives that could be available to their company. GO-Biz participated in several rounds of site selection tours that helped to qualify the final locations, out of which they chose San Diego. They were able to get the former Sony building in Rancho Bernardo before it went on the open market. When fully operational, Soitec will directly employ 450 and indirectly support 1,000 jobs.

The other reason they chose California is that it is the largest market for solar energy, and California offers good financial incentives for residents and business to convert to solar energy.

Crawford mentioned that GO-Biz also worked with the California Employment Training Panel (ETP) staff to help qualify Soitec for training funds to help their company train and prepare employees for the high-skilled jobs at their newly established factory in San Diego. During my subsequent phone interview, Mr. Crawford told me they were awarded $300,000 in training funds by the California ETP, and they provided over 15,000 training hours to their San Diego employees. They completed the training in early April 2014.

When asked why his company stays in California instead of moving to another state, McCain said, “California is currently the 8th largest economy in the world. A tremendous amount of our business, current and future, will come from this economy. Even though it is still difficult to find qualified employees, it is my experience that California is rich in qualified workforce, compared to other states.”

He added, “Our success depends greatly on the advantages of our workforce in Mexico. However, over the last 20 years, I have come to realize the culture in Mexico makes it difficult to do manufacturing that requires ingenuity and innovation. We will typically do our first articles and fixturing and any automation type manufacturing in the U.S. When it comes to labor intense, higher volume products, we can turn it over to the plant in Mexico where they can be very successful producing quality products. That allows the company to compete successfully, not only in the U.S. but also against offshore companies. The operation in Mexico, just over the last two years, has allowed us to grow our U.S. side, which has nearly 200 employees.”

In contrast, Martin Wood, stated, “We are solicited often by other States to move our manufacturing facility and jobs to NV, TX, FL, AZ and others. While it would be disruptive, in all cases, it would be like handing employees and the company a raise. Lower or zero State taxes is a big incentive to move. “

“While previous offers were less appealing, they are becoming more and more sophisticated involving real estate and grants, development and hiring help, and of course, no taxes for an extended period or permanently. Any business that is truly run for profit above all would be foolish to not at least consider these offers. We try not to let it consume us, and only entertain them on an annual basis. Right now, California edges out other states in our analysis, based on a number of support, service availability, and quality of life issues, but the gap is narrowing.”

“People in City, County and State Government should be aware this poaching is going on, and try to find a way to bring advantages to manufacturers in California and incentivize them to stay. We know we bring high paying employment wherever we go, and our customers are based worldwide. I see no reason these offers will not continue and expect them to get more and more appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I love California and my family is firmly entrenched here, but to truly own and manage a manufacturing business, you must make hard decisions and be right most of the time.”

Roth stated “the quality of life here in Southern California is a great incentive for companies to continue operating here even though [manufacturing companies] are not receiving the same type of incentives from the local and state governments.” This was one of the major points made in explaining why manufacturers tend to stay in California, despite the sometimes harsh business environment. Roth also stated that a key decision factor in contemplating company relocation is the difficulty entailed in moving employees and their families.

I commented that a company is more than a product; it is also the people who formed and comprise the existing company, and many times, employees aren’t willing to relocate to another state, and the company loses people key to its success. This is often what happens when an out-of-state company buys a San Diego regional company. Key employees don’t move with the company, and the acquisition becomes “buying a product” rather than “buying a company.” In addition, I pointed out that over 90% of California’s manufacturers are less than 100 people, and their customers are most local obtained through word of mouth and referrals. If they decide to move the company, it would be as if they started a new company from scratch.

When Reo Carr asked the question about reshoring, I explained that it started because of quality issues and expanded because of increases in wages in China over the last few years. I mentioned that China and other Asian nations don’t honor U.S. patent laws, which leads to intellectual property theft, hurting U.S. companies in the long run. The other panelists added their opinions as to why outsourcing manufacturing to China is becoming of a thing of the past (increasing wages, quality control, and logistics problems and problem-resolution) and why America is benefiting from the shift to returning manufacturing to America.

McCain confirmed that the contract manufacturing division of his business is benefitting from regional companies returning manufacturing to America.

In answer to the question about the impact of environmental and other regulations, I pointed out that we have been outsourcing our pollution to China and other Asian countries to escape the costs of regulation here. The consequences of industrialization with environmental regulations has been horrific for China and India, which I described one of the chapters in my book (Can American Manufacturing be Saved? Why we should and how we can) When asked about the environmental regulations that apply to his plant in Mexico, Mr. McCain said that Mexico is quickly catching up with the U. S.

A question from the audience about the shortage of local, trained machinists led into a discussion about two connected issues: workforce training and mass transit. Ms. Jensen shared that colleges are shifting in the programs they are now offering in an effort to meet the needs of employers. Mira Costa has both certificate and Associate degree courses in biotechnology, engineering, and manufacturing skills such as machining. She encouraged the companies to check with their local community colleges to inquire about the various programs available. I shared that there are now four high schools that provide up to two years of training to be a machinist and that for years and years, the San Diego Community College District has provided machining and welding training, as well as other manufacturing skills.

Wood said, “it is hard to find people to fill the positions they need, because most of [the blue collar laborers] live further south, in South County.” Crawford seconded that comment, saying that workers are coming from points south, as well…even from Mexico. McCain added mass transportation needs to improve to deal with the issue of where employees are traveling from to accommodate the job availability.

I pointed out that San Diego doesn’t have a “hub” center of manufacturing where everyone is going to work. The industrial business parks are scattered around the county (mainly in 13 of the 18 cities in San Diego County). Mass transit doesn’t work well for this type of region, and I don’t know how feasible it would ever be for mass transit to get workers coming from across the border to these scattered business parks.

In conclusion, the panelists shared that for the time being, the advantages of doing business in California outweighed the disadvantages. The biggest draw is still the quality of life the region offers, as well as the great weather. I shared that the successful company that stays in San Diego has a high dollar, high value, low to mid volume product, which has proprietary technology and lower labor content. When this type company does a Total Cost Analysis of doing business in San Diego/California, it pencils out positively. Crawford agreed that doing this kind of analysis is what enabled them to make the decision to locate Soitec in San Diego.

While it is hard to compete against the incentives and low or no taxes of some other states, we may have fewer companies making the decision to move out of California if more companies did this type of analysis. Of course, it would be even better if the governor and legislature actually proposed and passed legislation that would benefit manufacturers instead of adding to their costs of doing business in California.

 

California’s Metalworking Industry is a Leader in Technology and Environmental Consciousness

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

The California Metals Coalition (CMC) held their 41st annual meeting in Anaheim on May 8-9th, 2013. Over 150 business leaders from metalworking companies and the industry’s service providers attended the meeting. The California Metals Coalition membership is a diverse representation of the state’s metals industry. Membership in CMC is corporate, and the employees of each facility are individual members of the organization. The member companies are small businesses ? the average number of employees per company is only 50, so without an organization to be the voice and advocate for the metalworking industry in California, these companies and this industry would have no influence on statewide policies affecting them.

California’s metalworking industry began when metalworking facilities were established in1848 to manufacture the tools that led to the start of the gold rush and birth of our state in 1850. Today, California is home to 6,100 metalworking facilities, employing approximately 213,500 Californians, providing high-paying manufacturing jobs, health benefits, and a solid economic foundation to the Golden State. This level of employment represents 18% of California’s 1.2 million manufacturing jobs. This industry generates $12.2 billion in goods and services and $7.9 billion in wages for the economy.

The types of services provided by member companies includes: sand, permanent mold, investment, rubber/plaster mold, and die casting, machining, forging, metal fabrication and welding, metal stamping, metal finishing, metal raw materials, metal recycling, and tools and dies.

According to CMC data, in the metalworking industry, 8 out of 10 employees are considered ethnic minorities or reside in communities of concern. Living-wage employment for this diverse workforce can be found in working-class communities throughout the state because the average full-time hourly wage is $18.00 (not including benefits) or $37,000 per year. Jobs provided by this industry are the path to the middle class for many Californians.

What do these companies make? Metal manufacturers make the parts that go into solar panels, electric cars, medical devices, airplanes, unmanned vehicles, ships for the Navy and private companies, products for the military and defense industry, and thousands of other applications. Metalworking products and services are a direct reflection of the innovation and hard work put forth by California’s workforce and business owners.

Californians discard enough aluminum each day to build five Boeing 737 jets, and California metalworking companies recycle millions of tons of discarded metal each year. Metal is recycled and used as the primary material source to build components that fly our planes, housings that spin renewable-energy windmills, medical devices that keep our families safe, and defense items used by our troops. California metalworking companies recycle about 1,830,000 tons of metal per year, and every ton of waste that is recycled rather than disposed in landfill produces $275 more in goods and services.

The keynote speaker of the conference was Jerome Horton, Chairman of the Board of Equalization, who acknowledged the importance of this industry to the economy of California by mentioning some of the above data. He said that the BOE is helping California companies grow and had worked with the California Metals Coalition and other organizations to obtain the new manufacturers exemption tax credit that was signed into law by Governor Brown as part of Assembly Bill 93 and Senate Bill 90. This exemption will become effective July 1, 2014 and expires on July 1, 2022. It applies to specified NAICS codes, applicable to the whole metalworking industry and has a $200 million limitation. Tax-exempt property must be used 50% or more in one of the following activities:

  • Manufacturing, processing, refining, fabrication, or recycling tangible property
  • Research and development
  • Maintaining, repairing, measuring, or testing any qualified property
  • As a special purpose building and/or foundation

The BOE expanded the meaning of this tax credit to apply to tooling, whether it is retained or sold. Tooling must be either manufacturing by a company or purchased, be used in the manufacturing process, and have a life of over one year.

He also outlined the benefits of the new employee hiring credit that replaces the tax credits offered by Enterprise Zones that have been eliminated. This tax credit is based on wages of $12-$28/hour. There is a maximum of $56,000 per employee over five years, and the credit is equal to 35% each year.

The BOE has a much larger reserve than they need and are starting to refund monies to California companies. Last year the sales tax revenue increased from $52 billion to $56 billion, which helped enable the state budget to be balanced, but the State still has $300 billion in debt.

Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, Chief Economist for the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation was the next speaker. She provided an overview and comparison of the national economy and the state economy. If California were a country, it would be the 9th largest economy measured by Gross Regional Product in the world. However, California is lagging the national average in creating jobs, so that the unemployment rate in March was 8.1% compared to 6.7% nationwide. Jobs in durable goods manufacturing only increased by .8% for the state. She predicted 2.4% growth in the State GRG in 2014, and 2.9% in 2015.

Although California is losing businesses to other states, the LAEDC has helped companies such as Space X and American Apparel stay in California.

Jack Broadbent, Executive Office of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, was added to Thursday’s schedule of speakers as he had a conflict with attending on Friday as originally scheduled. The Bay area District was established in 1955, includes 9 counties with a population of seven million, and covers 5,540 square miles. The purpose of the Bay Area District was to improve air quality by reducing particulate matter, noxious odors, reduce visible emissions, and reduce future emissions. The California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) was formed to coordinate the rules of many local and statewide agencies involved in air quality.

In 2013, two new rules were adopted after extensive consultation with industry and other stakeholders. Rule 12-13 applies to foundries and forges, and Rule 6-4 applies to metal recycling operations. The Bay Area District led the state in creating an Emissions Minimization Plan to focus on fugitive emissions by reducing particulate matter, toxics, and odors. It incorporates continuous improvement via on-going facility assessments and Plan updates. All the draft plans have been received, and the next step will be a determination of District completeness, a public review period, District review and approval, followed by facility implementation.

In the Q & A period, I asked if the air pollution being transported by the trade winds from China is being taken into consideration, and he said that they have had to adjust the base of the ambient air quality because of the transported pollution. He has been to China five times in the past three years, and he said that China’s particulate matter in their air is more than 10 times the U. S. standard.

Brian Johnson, Deputy Director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) was the next speaker. He briefly described the Hazardous Waste Management program and the new Policy and Program Support Division that was formed after restructuring last year. The metalworking industry is getting a great deal of attention by the legislature, regulators, and the community around specific metals sites. A Hazardous Waste Reduction Initiative was introduced into the legislature last year, and a Safer Emissions Products Initiative is on the horizon. The Department is using 17 categories of pollution burden data of Census Track ratings to prioritize their response to community complaints for specific metals sites.

The next topic was workmen’s compensation insurance, and State Senator Ted Gaines (R) who is a candidate for Insurance Commissioner described how his long experience as an insurance agent would be beneficial to working with the metalworking industry to improve this insurance program. A panel of five members of CMC shared their experiences with regard to this issue. Of note, is the fact that California has some of the highest workmen’s compensation rates of any other state for certain industries. For example, the California rate for die casting companies is 5 times the rate in Mississippi.

The issues discussed at this conference demonstrate why the metalworking industry is challenged in doing business in California. However, many of these companies, especially foundries and forgers, cannot easily pick up stakes and move to other states. The high cost of doing business in California has resulted in more companies going out of business rather than moving to another state.

Adding to these challenges has been the fierce competition this industry has experienced from China in the past decade. CMC Executive Director, James Simonelli, told me that in the year 2000, the industry had about 325,000 employees. This means that the current employment of 213,500 is 40% less than it was 14 years ago. The good news is that all of the attendees to whom I spoke were experiencing some “reshoring” of parts coming back from China.

When compared to manufacturing facilities around the world, California is the place to find the most technologically advanced, and environmentally conscious metal manufacturers. California’s metalworking industry is arguably the world’s leader for efficient, clean, and safe metal manufacturing.

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.