Continuing its focus on job creation, the subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, chaired by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), convened a hearing today to discuss an all-important question facing the U.S. economy: "Can American Manufacturing Thrive Again?" This was the subcommittee's second hearing in its where the jobs are hearing series to examine obstacles and opportunities to understand and improve the employment outlook in America.
The U.S. is still the world's largest manufacturing economy, but it was the sector hit the hardest during the Great Recession. The revitalization and sustainability of this sector is key to a globally competitive U.S. economy. Today's hearing examined what steps the Obama administration has taken around manufacturing in America, and also identified federal policies that are standing in the way of job creation and economic growth.
Commerce Secretary John Bryson acknowledged the importance of manufacturing to our nation's economy and security. "A robust sector is vital to the U.S. economy. It currently provides 12 million American jobs, accounts for the bulk of U.S. exports, drives technological innovation, and strengthens national security," said Bryson.
While the hearing demonstrated shared agreement about the need to get American factories working again, some members and witnesses challenged parts of the administration's strategy, pointing to the layers of red tape and costly tax burdens saddling U.S. manufacturers and crippling America's global competitiveness.
"Today, we stand at an important crossroads. One direction -- lined by job-killing regulatory hurdles, a punitive tax code, and indecisive political leadership -- will lead ultimately to a further erosion of our manufacturing base and lost prosperity for future generations of Americans," said Bono Mack. "The other direction -- where smart policies and smart minds eventually intersect -- could lead, instead, to a resurgence in U.S. manufacturing, putting millions of Americans back to work again and breathing new life into the beleaguered middle class."
Al Lubrano, president of a small manufacturing business, testified on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers; he described the costly consequences of U.S. federal policies. "Despite the critical role the industry plays in the economy, it is 20 percent more expensive to manufacture a product in the United States than it is for our largest trading partners, and that excludes cost of labor. The primary drivers of this cost differential are policies in the areas of taxes, litigation, regulation and energy," said Lubrano.
Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, offered a manufacturing growth strategy that addresses the "4Ts of technology, talent, tax, and trade." He went on to explain, "The solution to this challenge needs to go beyond partisan differences: we need a more competitive tax code and smarter regulations, but we also need increased public investment in manufacturing technology programs and programs to ensure a trained manufacturing workforce at all levels."
Chairman Bono Mack welcomed the witnesses' testimony and input and reiterated the committee's commitment to American manufacturing, saying, "I continue to believe in the greatness of America, and "Made in America' should continue to be a shared pride for all of us."