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Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about an important initiative that is not only important to my State of Arkansas but important to our entire Nation, and that is manufacturing. This country is an economic powerhouse, and we are certainly a manufacturing powerhouse. There is an important initiative that is being put together here in the Senate called the Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign.
I think so far we have maybe 21 colleagues, maybe 22, or maybe even more who are in support of this effort. I encourage others to look at it.
We see a lot of manufactured crises here in Washington. It may be the farm bill or the government shutdown or the near debt default. Those are all just kind of manufactured by the Congress. But I am glad to see we have 21 or 22 or 23 colleagues here who are ready to turn off the ``my way or the highway'' politics and turn down the rhetoric and really focus on what our No. 1 priority should be, which is jobs and the economy, because if we didn't learn anything else from the shutdown and some of those high-wire act politics of the last few weeks, hopefully we learned that if we want to get anything done in Washington, we need to work together. That is the bottom line. That is what this package of bills and this initiative are intending to do. If we really want to create jobs and if we really want to make a difference for the U.S. economy, we have to reach across the aisle.
There are many bright spots in the Congress. Listen, we know we have been through the ringer. We know how difficult this recession was. It was the hardest economic downturn in my lifetime and most of our lifetimes, the hardest economic downturn we have ever seen since we have been alive, but we are coming out of it.
There are many bright spots in the economy. Yes, we get good economic news pretty much every day, and we also get some mixed economic news pretty much every day. So it is not happening as fast as we would like it to, and it is not happening in every sector of the economy and in every section of the country as we would like it to, but it is happening.
One of those bright spots is manufacturing. Last year manufacturing contributed $1.87 trillion to our economy--$1.87 trillion in manufacturing. That is how much of a difference it made in our economy. There are 17.2 million U.S. jobs; that is, jobs in this country, and 1 in 6 private sector jobs is tied to manufacturing. It also provides a very strong return on the investment we make. So if we invest $1 in manufacturing, it adds $1.48 back into the economy.
America is a powerhouse when it comes to manufacturing, and we need to keep it that way. Everybody knows--look at all the studies--the United States is the world's largest manufacturing economy. In fact, if we just took manufacturing and put everything else on the side, the United States would still be the 10th largest economy in the world just based on our manufacturing. We are a powerhouse, but we can do more, we can do much more, and we should.
We need to fight hard to make sure that ``Made in America'' remains the gold standard. We want it to be the thing everybody wants to see in every market. ``Made in America'' means something. It also means something here because the investment is here, the workers are here, and the productivity is here. It is good for GDP, et cetera. We want to make sure manufacturing remains what it has always been. That is why today I offer my public support for this Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign, and it is why I have supported a lot of provisions in the past. Most of them have been bipartisan efforts where we have reached across the aisle to try to work with my Republican colleagues on all kinds of issues, including the America COMPETES Act and the America COMPETES reauthorization efforts. I am totally for them. I think they are good initiatives.
One of them we have talked about is the national strategic plan for advanced manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing is a little different from traditional manufacturing. We need to make sure that we are strategic and focused and that we know what we are talking about, as with angel investors. A lot of times people think investment just happens. A lot of times it does, but sometimes, if we can give that little nudge to angel investors, they can invest and make a huge difference in those companies and they can touch millions of people's lives. We have seen that in our State of Arkansas, and that resulted in some real success stories.
Then, if we can bring it back down to a really small scale, one of the initiatives I have supported over the years is the small business startup savings account. People can take a certain amount of money from a paycheck, put it in a savings account tax-free--kind of like an IRA or a fund like that--put it in that savings account and use it to start a business or somehow grow the business. They never get taxed on it. They can cash it in at some point and use it to start a business. That is good for savings, it is good for the economy, and it is good to get these small businesses started. Everybody knows as well as I do that when someone walks into a lender, a bank, and they have, say, $10,000, $20,000, or $30,000 saved, that gives them a big advantage when they need a loan for the rest of the money. So that is a win-win across the board.
Again, I support working on this commonsense package of bills that really accomplishes four goals: First, strengthening our manufacturing sector; second, leveling the playing field for American companies; third, helping startups get access to capital; and fourth, enhancing innovation, competitiveness, and trade opportunities for businesses here at home. Various Senators in the Chamber have different ideas on how we accomplish them, but I think we can all agree on those goals. If we work together, we really can make a great difference for our Nation.
One of the reasons why coming out of this sluggish economy has been a little more slow than we would have liked is because we don't have as many manufacturing jobs as we used to. Although the number is on the rebound and it is growing, we all know we have lost a lot of manufacturing jobs in the last couple of decades. But we are back. It is because of energy. It is because of the trained workforce. It is because of our efficiencies, et cetera. We are back. We need to push this advantage and keep it growing. Our country has the workforce, we have the infrastructure, and we have the manufacturing base and the work ethic here; we just need to give our businesses that little extra boost to manufacture jobs for America.
With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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