Breakfast with the National Association of Manufacturers (Berks County)
[As prepared for delivery]
It's a real pleasure to be here with my colleagues to speak with you and listen and to learn.
You know, politicians have a reputation for liking to talk a lot.
But it's really more important for us to listen.
We're the ones who have the job of representing you in Congress, so we need to know what's on your minds.
First of all, I want to tell you all how well represented you are in Washington by the National Association of Manufacturers.
NAM is a real presence on the Hill.
Everyone knows where they stand on key votes.
And they're very good at making sure people like you come down to Washington to see us from time to time.
Just last week I had several owners of wood products companies in my office to talk about what's going on in their business.
It turns out the Chinese are taking American lumber, making things out of it, and then shipping it back to the United States at prices that are artificially lower than what we can produce here.
That hasn't been in the paper. I wouldn't have known about it if somebody just like you hadn't taken the time to tell me.
Nationally, the big story for manufacturers is the loss of jobs. July of 2000, 2.3 million jobs have been lost.
We've lost them because of increased productivity and efficiency.
We've lost them because countries like China are undercutting domestic producers by dumping product in our market.
We've lost them because of the recession we went through recently and the recovery that has been far too slow.
But this is a complicated issue, and there's no simple solution.
For instance, we can't just beat up on China.
We have to be tough on them, yes. But we can't stop the future from coming, and China is an incredibly big market for us as well as a competitor.
They absolutely need to let their currency float like the rest of the world does.
They need to live up to their WTO commitments.
They need to respect intellectual property laws.
And they should probably pay their workers a little more.
The Bush Administration is working very hard to get the Chinese to do these things.
Secretary Snow has been very active on this.
Tort reform, medical malpractice reform, regulatory relief, and tax relief are all things we need to accomplish to improve the climate for businesses like your own.
The President is right on target with all of this.
So is the House of Representatives.
The problem is the U.S. Senate that is a much more liberal, and much less efficient, body than the House is.
You have no idea how frustrating it is to work for months on something that passes the House and then dies in the Senate.
We'll see what happens in November's election. Maybe we'll have a more business-friendly Senate next year.
Early in the Bush Administration, we were able to pass some important tax relief into law.
That tax relief produced the recovery we are now experiencing.
According to the Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau, new orders for manufactured durable goods are increasing.
Shipments of manufactured durable goods have been up for four consecutive months.
The market is up, and jobs - including manufacturing jobs - are returning.
But we're not out of the woods yet, and we all still have a lot of work to do to make sure this new period of growth is as strong as the last one.