While both parties focus almost exclusively on big banks and the Dow Jones, I have been more focused on the parts of our economy that make things -- manufacturing, agriculture, and construction. There is no economy recovery that does not include Americans making things, building things, and growing things again, and if we level the playing field, American workers and entrepreneurs will outcompete the world. For my first year and a half in Congress, I fought for Washington to turn its focus back to Main Street, and finally last week we got some major breakthroughs that I am proud to report back.
U.S. manufacturing has been a source of great pride, revenue, and solid employment for more than a century. We must reclaim this sector as if our nation's economic future depends on it, because it most certainly does. Unfortunately courage and common sense are scarce commodities in Washington these days.
I helped lead the fight this week for a bill that would accomplish two common sense goals -- close the tax loopholes that subsidize companies for sending American jobs overseas, and using that to remove a major paperwork burden on small business that can help free up resources for job creation. This is something that should have been done long ago, and I have voted repeatedly and cosponsored legislation to close these loopholes.
Both of these measures should have been no brainers and, in fact, the Republican leadership was already on record supporting both components. But when it came time to vote, they clearly did not want to allow Washington to do something sensible for the American people. I thought I'd seen the worst case of partisanship trumping common sense, but this may take the cake.
Despite this disappointment, Washington is starting to realize the importance of American manufacturing jobs. I recently joined several of my colleagues to announce the "Make it in America" initiative in the House of Representatives. This new package of legislation will create jobs and get us back to the basics, and we were finally able to forge some bipartisan consensus. One key piece demanded a national manufacturing strategy which will identify and help eliminate barriers that are hindering American manufacturing. Until now federal efforts to support manufacturing have been haphazard and reactive, instead of coordinated and proactive.
I also cosponsored and helped lead the victory on the End the Trade Deficit Act to address astronomical imbalance that hit $753 billion in 2006. We simply cannot continue to ship our jobs and wealth overseas.
Finally, we passed the Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act which will help U.S. manufacturers of clean energy technology explore opportunities in foreign markets. I am a firm believer that Southern and Central Virginia can lead America's new energy economy. Whether its bio-fuels, efficiency technology, wind turbines, or the next generation of automobiles, I want to see highly skilled American workers producing these quality products and shipping them across the globe. Last week, we finally broke through the misguided elite consensus of both parties that has sold out working and middle class Americans. We took a few concrete steps back towards an economy that builds, makes and grows things in America again.