Bring Jobs Home Act--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:  Debbie Stabenow
Date: July 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise today to urge my colleagues to support the motion we have before us to begin consideration of my bill, the Bring Jobs Home Act. I thank my leader for making this a priority and thank the President of the United States for also making this a priority as we move forward.

Let me start on process, to say it is true, of course, as the leader indicated, we could be simply on this bill and working to complete it and pass it. But unfortunately, as happens on everything now, when the leader attempts to move to a bill, there is an objection to that. When there is, it puts us into a situation where we have to spend several days trying to overcome a potential filibuster to be able to move to the bill. So, process-wise, that is where we are.

From a substance standpoint it is absolutely critical that we move to this bill and that we pass it. The great recession and the financial collapse of 2008 were absolutely devastating to our economy. We know that during that time, 8 million Americans lost their jobs and many are still struggling to get out of their own deficit hole because of what happened. These are people who worked all their lives and played by the rules, only to have the rug pulled out from under them.

Many of these people were folks who worked in manufacturing, many in my great State of Michigan. We are so proud that we make things in Michigan. We do not have a middle class, we do not have an economy unless we make things. That is what we do in Michigan. For decades, this has been the foundation of our economy. Frankly, it created the middle class of our country and we are proud it started in Michigan with the beginning of the automobile industry.

It is no coincidence that as those jobs have disappeared over the decades, the middle class has begun to disappear as well and families are in more and more difficult situations personally as a result of that. Those jobs have been the driving force of our economy for decades, as I indicated. Those jobs are the jobs that allowed the ``greatest generation'' to build the greatest economy in the world, the greatest economy we have ever seen. Those jobs led to tree-lined streets with at least one car in every driveway, and the freedom to raise a family and send them to college and maybe have the cottage up north and be able to take the family on vacation and have the American dream.

Today in fact that dream is in jeopardy and every American family knows that. But it does not have to be that way. In the last decade, companies shipped 2.4 million jobs overseas. To add insult to injury, American taxpayers were asked to help foot the bill.

It is amazing. When I explain that to folks in Michigan, they say you have to be kidding--or they say other things I cannot repeat on the floor of the Senate. Just imagine if you are one of those workers in Michigan or in Virginia or in Ohio or in Wisconsin or anywhere in this country who maybe was forced to train your overseas replacement before you were laid off. Imagine what your reaction would be--more colorful than I have been able to state here. When an American worker is asked to subsidize the moving expenses, as they do today under current tax policy--the moving expenses and costs so their own job can be shipped overseas--there is something seriously wrong with our Tax Code and with our priorities.

It does not have to be that way. In fact, we can change that. We can change that this week on the floor of the Senate by passing the Bring Jobs Home Act and sending it to the House and then sending it to the President where I know he will enthusiastically and immediately sign it.

Instead of rewarding companies for shipping jobs overseas, we want to reward companies for bringing jobs home. That is the whole point of this bill. We stop the tax deduction for moving expenses related to moving jobs overseas. That is what this bill does. Right now you can deduct those expenses as part of your business expenses. We say: No more. Second, we say: However, if you want to come home, we will happily give you that deduction for the costs of moving back to the United States and we will add an additional 20 percent tax credit for those costs of bringing jobs back to the United States. That is what we are doing in the Bring Jobs Home Act.

This is common sense. Unfortunately it is not that common these days, but it is common sense and it is good economic sense as well. It is so important that we pass this bill. We talk about tax reform. We talk about having a lot of tax loopholes. This is one we can eliminate right now, together, on a bipartisan basis. Let's start here, the No. 1 loophole, we will close it; No. 1 priority, jobs in America.

I know some of my colleagues do not believe these jobs are ever coming back. I hear that all the time. We in Michigan have been seeing that same defeatist argument for 20 years. But in fact that is not true. One of the things I am proudest of in the last 3 1/2 years is that we have refocused on advanced manufacturing, making things in America, in this country. We have a lot more to do but we have in fact refocused on jobs here at home and we are seeing, because of that, a whole range of policies--whether it is the advanced manufacturing tax cut I offered in the Recovery Act, that allows a 30-percent writeoff for clean energy manufacturing jobs, or whether it is the retooling loans we put in place to be able to help retool plants to be able to modernize in the name of advanced manufacturing. It is bringing jobs back.

We put in place some initial actions that are making a difference and we are now seeing every month that manufacturing is having an uptick. It has been one of the only areas where pretty much every month we have begun to see a slow return. We are beginning to see some of these jobs come back as a result. Our companies are doing the calculations, finding out that bringing jobs home makes good business sense. It is time our Tax Code stops standing in the way and actually has caught up with what many businesses are doing.

Ford Motor Company brought jobs back from Mexico to support advanced vehicle manufacturing at their newly retooled Wayne Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI. Chrysler is growing and expanding their operations here in the United States, investing--95 percent I believe is the last number which I heard of their investments are being done in America. We are proud to have them investing in Detroit and in Michigan. Last week we saw a report that GM is about to go on a ``hiring binge.'' I love this, I love anything called a hiring binge, as they bring almost all of their information technology needs back in-house, and to America.

We have a great company in Detroit--actually from New Jersey, now in Detroit--Galaxy Solutions, that has an ``outsource to Detroit'' effort going on to bring IT back from places such as India and Brazil and China. We have on the side of one of our largest buildings this great sign that says ``outsource to Detroit.'' If we are going to outsource somewhere, let's outsource to our American cities. We love the fact that they are part of the effort to rebuild and refocus on Detroit.

We have companies that want to invest in America. We have stories about GE coming back. We have stories in every State of companies that are bringing jobs back to America. We have men and women who want to work. We have companies that are looking at bringing jobs back. CNBC called it ``the stuff that dreams are made of.''

I think going forward the great economic resurgence for us is involved in advanced manufacturing, making things in America and bringing our jobs back to America. It is more than time. It is what our workers are dreaming of. We are proud in Michigan of our workforce, these folks who know how to work, they want to work, they work hard every day. I have to say that efforts such as ``outsource to Detroit'' are giving them a new chance to do that, as well as the other efforts that are going on around Michigan.

There are so many opportunities right here in America. We have the great new ideas. We have the ingenuity and the innovation. We have to make sure we have the right policies to make it happen, that we are not doing anything in our Tax Code that encourages jobs to go overseas; that we do everything possible to support efforts to bring them back and then to reinvest and to expand upon research, development, innovation, retooling the plants we have, reinvesting in communities, reinvesting in our cities, and focusing on a strategy of American jobs. That is what everyone wants us to be doing.

There is a great place to start and that is with our Tax Code so that it catches up with what leading-edge business leaders already know. American businesses, American workers can compete with anybody in the world if we have a level playing field and we give them a chance to do it.

This is a moment, I believe, for us to indicate very strongly to everybody in the country that we get it and that we are not going to allow the Tax Code to continue to create a situation where if someone wants to close up shop and move overseas they can get a tax writeoff as a result. That makes absolutely no sense. I cannot imagine any other country in the world allowing that to happen.

When I think about places such as China, where at this point they say: Come on over, we will build the plant for you. Forget about a retooling loan; we will build the plant for you. Of course, then we will steal their patents, and there are a lot other challenges, but: Come on over and we will build the plant for you. The last numbers I saw showed that China was spending $288 million a day--probably more now--on clean energy policies and manufacturing, and new cutting-edge efforts to try to compete and beat us in an area we should own.

Between our universities and our businesses and our great workforce we ought to completely own these technologies. I am very proud to say that Michigan is now No. 1 in new clean energy patents. We were proud to open, last Friday, the first U.S. Patent Office outside of Washington, DC, in Detroit, MI, as a result of that. There are great ideas happening all over this country right now, innovators--frankly, people who have lost their jobs and they are now back in their garage or basement or the extra bedroom, with new ideas. We want to create businesses to support their creation of businesses by incentivizing them, not having a Tax Code that incentivizes somebody to move overseas.

This legislation I think is pretty simple. It is about bringing jobs home to America. We are going to stop writing off the costs, allowing that business to be subsidized by all of us, including the people they lay off, in order to move overseas. Instead, we are going to say no, if you move overseas you are on your own. But if you want to come back we are happy to allow you a business deduction for those moving expenses and we will add another 20 percent toward the costs of your expenses on top of it. That is what we should be doing. That is smart tax policy. It is common sense. It is one step in a series of things we need to do in order to be able to bring jobs home and make things in America again. I hope we will see an overwhelmingly positive, bipartisan vote on this bill. It would send a wonderful message that we can work together.

We worked together not long ago to pass a farm bill with a strong bipartisan vote because we need to make and grow products in America. That is how we make an economy; that is how we have a middle class. We came together, and I am very appreciative of everyone coming together and working with me and Senator Roberts to get that done. This is another opportunity.

It is another way for us to come together and say: We get it. We understand what is going on in the country.

Let's work together and get the job done. I strongly urge colleagues to come together and pass the Bring Jobs Home Act.


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