Bring Jobs Home Act--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:  Debbie Stabenow
Date: July 18, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I first want to thank my friend and colleague from Connecticut for his commitment and compassion and passion on this issue. I appreciate very much his joining with me and others to come together to put forward what I think is a commonsense bill that focuses on closing a major loophole that is requiring basically taxpayers to help foot the bill when jobs are shipped overseas. So I want to thank the Senator from Connecticut for his efforts and commitment. I know he shares my belief that we need to be bringing jobs home, and that is what we intend to do.

I do want to speak today about the legislation that is in front of us. We can come together and agree we don't have to go forward and have this vote to stop a filibuster. If we could agree to bring up the bill and discuss it and pass it, it would be terrific. We know we have a majority to support this bill and be able to pass it, send it to the House, and the President will sign it in 30 seconds, I know, to be able to close this loophole. But we are, unfortunately, engaged in something right now that we are engaged in all the time now. It used to be a rare occurrence to have an objection that triggers a filibuster. Now it is on every issue. So we find ourselves waiting to be able to vote to see whether we are going to be able to get a supermajority to be able to go to this bill. That is very concerning to me, given the fact that we do have the majority in the Senate that wants to debate and pass this bill and we have the vast majority of Americans. It is not about Democrats or Republicans. We have people all over this country who want to see us move forward on this bill as well as others that will focus on jobs and focus on bringing jobs home. We want to build an economy that lasts. The way we do that I believe is by making things--making things in America.

Two weeks ago, we passed the farm bill on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. As chair of the Agriculture Committee, working with my ranking member Senator Roberts, we very much appreciated the hard work and support of Members on both sides of the aisle to pass something that is involved in growing things. We don't have a middle class in this country and we don't have an economy unless we make things and grow things. So we showed we could come together around a major piece of legislation that invests in growing things and all of the offshoots of that as it relates to the food economy.

This is an opportunity to say ``we get it'' when it comes to making things and bringing jobs back from overseas so we can make more things again in America. It is unbelievable to me--and I know it is unbelievable to hard-working men and women in Michigan and I know all across the country--that companies actually get a tax writeoff for packing up shop, paying for the moving expenses, doing what they need to do to close down and move jobs overseas. It is actually astounding. And when we look at the fact that we have lost 2.4 million jobs in the last 10 years because of that, it is outrageous when you think about it that we are losing 2.4 million jobs and it continues, and, at the same time, American taxpayers are helping to foot the bill. That makes absolutely no sense.

We have heard a lot about tax reform from Members on both sides of the aisle, and I support that. I think there are some larger tax issues. As a member of the Finance Committee, I am committed to addressing a range of issues that deals with incentives and how we compete globally and our companies are able to compete globally. But this is tax reform we can do right now. We don't have to wait for something big to come someday. We are going to have an opportunity in the next day to vote on tax reform immediately. I know the Presiding Officer shares the desire to bring those jobs home. The fact is, we have something very simple and straightforward we are going to be asked to vote on.

First of all, the Bring Jobs Home Act would end the taxpayer subsidies that are helping to pay for moving costs for corporations that are closing up shop and sending jobs overseas. Secondly, we are going to allow companies to have that deduction when they bring the jobs back. So if we have a company wanting to close up shop in China and bring the jobs back, we are happy to allow a business tax deduction for that. And, on top of it, we will allow an additional 20-percent tax credit for the cost of bringing those jobs back. So we are happy to do that. But we are not paying to ship the jobs overseas.

I don't know of any country in the world right now that would have a tax policy that involves helping to pay for jobs leaving their country. If anything, we are in a situation today where we have other countries either trying to block us from selling to them or they create incentives. I have mentioned so many times but it is true, I have talked to companies that had the Chinese Government approach them and say, ``Come on over, we will build the plant for you.'' And then they steal your patent.

But the fact is other countries are aggressively trying to get what we have had as America, what has created the middle class of America, which is the ability to make things in this country. We don't seem to understand that if we are not vigilant, if we are not paying attention, if we are not focused, if we don't have the right policies and the right kinds of investments and partnerships with the private sector, they are going to have all of those middle-class jobs. So when we look at this, it is time to begin that process. In fact, it is way past time to do this.

Cheryl Randecker would certainly agree with that. She worked at Sensata for 33 years. She has a daughter who is ready to go to college. She is worried about how she is going to pay her bills and put food on the table and pay for her daughter's schooling. And now she finds she has lost her job. It is being shipped to China. Her employer gets a tax deduction that she is helping to pay for, for the moving expenses.

Her coworker Joyce is 60 years old and has worked at the same company for 29 years. She has given them her whole career, and in those years she has developed a very specific set of job skills that have made her a tremendous asset to the work they do at their facility. But those skills aren't necessarily transferrable to another company, and she is worried those companies would rather hire somebody half her age to save money. She is another person who must be absolutely outraged to find out that the taxes she has paid for nearly 30 years in her career are being used to help her company ship her job to China.

I have heard similar worries from my constituents all over Michigan, people who have worked all their lives--often for the same company--in their late fifties, early sixties, a few years shy of retirement, and who suddenly find the rug pulled out from under them. It is outrageous to think that those individuals, who have played by the rules and worked hard their whole lives, suddenly find themselves in a situation where their jobs are shipped overseas and American taxpayers are subsidizing it. We can change that. We can change that when we vote to move forward on this bill.
The good news, and the reason we need to do this to keep this momentum going, is that we have a lot of companies that are now doing the math and finding it makes good business sense to bring jobs home. So we have some good news stories, and we need to keep them going.

But our Tax Code needs to catch up with that and reward those companies instead of putting them at a competitive disadvantage when we have companies closing up here and shipping jobs the other way.

Caterpillar is making major new investments in the United States, bringing jobs back from Japan, Mexico, and China.

DuPont is building a plant in Charleston, SC, to produce Kevlar. That is great news. They are making investments in Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

All-Clad Metalcrafters, the folks who make high-end cookware, have brought their production of lids back from China to the United States.

Keen, a shoe manufacturer, just opened a 15,000-square-foot plant to manufacture boots in Portland, OR--production that used to be in China.

Master Lock, the world's largest padlock maker, moved jobs back to their facility in Milwaukee, WI, and they now have 50 products manufactured exclusively in the United States made with U.S. component parts.

US Airways brought hundreds of jobs back to their call centers in North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada. Today, Lori Manuel is joining me in just a few moments at a press conference to talk about how important those jobs are to her and her colleagues.

Yesterday I was on the floor talking about our American automobile industry. I am very proud that Ford has retooled. The largest plant they have is in North America, in Wayne, MI, and because of that effort and new advanced batteries, they are bringing jobs back from Mexico and, we are now hearing, from China and other places. I know GM and Chrysler are very focused on jobs here and bringing jobs back, and that is all good news.

These are companies that want to invest in America. They want to bring jobs home. Our Tax Code should be rewarding that, not rewarding those who want to leave. Our Tax Code still rewards their competitors who are not making investments in America, and it makes absolutely no sense. When CEOs are making calculations about where to move production, we do not want the Tax Code standing in the way.

It is very simple. We know we have to focus on jobs in America. We are in a global economy. Our companies are competing with countries and policies of countries and investments by other countries. We have to make sure that we are doing everything, that it is all hands on deck, that everybody is moving in the same direction, that the Tax Code works, that we are partnering in the right way in every part of our economy so that the message is sent out: Bring jobs home. ``American made.'' We want to strengthen America.

This is about America first. That is what the Tax Code ought to focus on, and that is what this bill is all about. I am hopeful that our colleagues will get beyond the politics of the moment. I know we are in an election year. I get the partisan politics of the moment. But there are people around our country counting on us--Democrats, Republicans, Independents, folks who vote, folks who do not vote--counting on us to actually step up together and do things that make sense. This makes sense. We need to bring jobs home. This bill will help do that.

I yield the floor.


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