Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered a speech today unveiling an updated Make It In America plan to strengthen domestic manufacturing and job creation. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"'Made in America' has been – and still is, in many respects – a label envied throughout the world. Our factories continue to produce quality products at affordable prices – products that make the world run. We are still the world’s leading manufacturing nation.
"For much of the twentieth century, manufacturing jobs sustained the growth of a middle class that was secure in its present and confident in its future.
"However, while our manufacturing output is strong, manufacturing employment has fallen sharply. In the late 1970’s, it peaked around 20 million jobs, but today that figure has dropped to just over 11 million. Similarly, manufacturing’s share of GDP has declined from as much as 28% in the 1950’s to just 11.5% in 2011. This can be attributed not only to low-skill manufacturing jobs going overseas but also to greater innovation and technology being used on the production lines here in America.
"While we continue to be a manufacturing giant, it’s no wonder why so many Americans remain deeply concerned about the future of our manufacturing sector.
"So while Congress has been engaged in a debate over the past few months on deficits and their impact on our economy, the bottom line is this: we cannot achieve true fiscal stability without economic growth, and without fiscal stability our economic growth will be stunted. By stabilizing our deficits and debt through a big and balanced agreement, we will also reinvigorate our economy. Balancing our budget over the longer term will give us the confidence and ability to grow our economy and strengthen our country by investing in education, innovation, and infrastructure.
"Today I want to talk about how Congress can take concrete steps to advance economic growth by helping the private sector create manufacturing jobs, which in turn will have a positive impact on our budgets.
"Three years ago, with unemployment at 9.5% and our economic recovery stalling, I joined with my House Democratic colleagues to launch an ambitious and forward-looking plan to create jobs and ensure America’s global economic leadership by revitalizing our manufacturing sector.
"Our plan has focused on manufacturing because of the significant impact that sector has on the economy. It has traditionally created high-skill, high-wage jobs that sustain our middle class. Manufacturing also has a multiplier effect, which, according to the National Association of Manufacturing, yields $1.48 for the wider economy for every dollar we invest. There’s also something intangible we get from making things in America – a sense of pride that the products we use and sell around the world were built right here in our communities. Most Americans believe that we won’t be the country we want to be if we can’t 'Make It In America.'
"When Republicans gained control of the House in January 2011, we continued to promote 'Make It In America' legislation as a jobs platform that we believed their new Majority could embrace and work with us to pass. Our plan draws support from business and labor and was formed from the best ideas on both sides. From the very start, Make It In America has had the potential to be a textbook example of bipartisan cooperation.
"There have been some scattered successes, with a handful of Make It In America bills, such as the Export-Import Bank, patent reform, and others, being passed into law on a bipartisan basis over the past three years. Another example is the JOBS Act, which was a compilation of several bipartisan bills, including Make It In America proposals inspired by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
"But the bitter partisanship in Congress has, unfortunately, held back Make It In America legislation, such as the creation of an infrastructure bank to help leverage private sector capital to get large projects off the ground. Even legislation with bipartisan support, which would have sailed through the House in prior years, has stalled. With Republicans maintaining control of the House for the next two years – and with our jobs recovery still fragile – now is the time to take another look at the Make It In America plan. Now is the time to ask ourselves as a nation what we can do, together, to restore domestic manufacturing and the jobs, innovation, and global leadership that come with it.
"Today, I’m announcing a Make It In America plan that focuses on four central components that, I believe, are key to helping manufacturers grow, expand, and create jobs here. The components are:
(1) adopting and pursuing a national manufacturing strategy;
(2) promoting the export of U.S. goods;
(3) encouraging businesses to bring jobs and innovation back to the U.S.; and
(4) training and securing a 21st century workforce.
"As I travel around the country, meeting with leaders in both business and labor, it is clear that these four items are on the top of the agenda for all central stakeholders. I believe these core components can, and will, have bipartisan support in both chambers. This is important – because good ideas won’t go anywhere if they can’t pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President.
"Many of the businesses I’ve visited are, in fact, manufacturing products in America. And they would do more. If they could justify it, and if it were profitable, many would move high-skill, high-wage jobs back to our shores – in fact, in some places it’s happening already. While some have made the argument that manufacturing is not coming back, I believe – and I think most Americans believe, too – that we still have the ability to bring jobs back and not let them slip away. It will depend on whether Congress can act to create an environment that is conducive to manufacturing in America profitably.
"After years of watching companies close plants and shed jobs to take advantage of cheaper labor overseas, the tide is turning. Wages are increasing abroad as workers demand benefits and a better standard of living. And rising fuel prices have driven up the cost of transporting goods between distant markets. Just last week, an article in the Washington Post highlighted how a growing number of manufacturers are moving operations from Europe to the United States as a result of declining natural gas prices here. This demonstrates the success and promise of an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, such as that supported by the Obama Administration and promoted on a bipartisan basis.
"In addition to these factors, our manufacturing sector has shown encouraging gains. The Institute for Supply Management reported stronger than expected performance in February, building on what has become a very promising trend. The manufacturing sector has grown for 43 out of the past 44 months. While we’ve made progress we cannot take our manufacturing recovery for granted. Our gains will mean little unless Congress takes action to capitalize on them and transform manufacturing’s potential into real production and jobs in the United States.
"It’s in this context that I’m outlining today the four specific areas that are poised to have the greatest impact on our economy and are the most likely to draw support from both sides.
"First, as any CEO will tell you, before taking on any major venture, you need to have a plan. That’s the case for business and ought to be so for government as well. America needs a national manufacturing strategy that will serve as a guide over the short, middle, and long terms as we make targeted investments in growth. In Germany, which has higher wages, higher benefits, and greater unionization, they developed a national strategy that is helping to maintain and grow a strong manufacturing base. Nothing says we can’t do the same here in America.
"Last year, the House passed a bill that would do precisely that: the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, sponsored by Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois. It passed with strong bipartisan support, by a vote of 339-77. Unfortunately, it failed to advance in the Senate, and we now have a new opportunity to pass it once more, for the Senate to act, and for this bill to become law. It would bring business, labor, government, and other stakeholders together to formulate a national, comprehensive strategy to attract manufacturing businesses, help them compete around the world, and create the right conditions for them to succeed and create jobs here at home. The magnitude of our jobs challenge demands a well thought-out solution.
"The second area where Congress can play a positive role is in promoting exports. Manufacturers want help accessing new markets, and they need a reliable, efficient transportation infrastructure they can depend on to move their products to such markets. In his 2010 State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out the goal of doubling exports by 2015. We are now about halfway there: in 2009, before President Obama formed the National Export Initiative, exports were $1.5 trillion. In 2012, they were $2.2 trillion. While this is significant progress, there are additional steps Congress ought to take, including consideration of Make It In America bills that address increasing exports and improving infrastructure – areas where Democrats and Republicans can work together.
"For example, a bill sponsored by Rep. Elliot Engel, the Export Promotion Reform Act, would direct our embassies abroad to develop country-specific plans to boost exports. We should also look to establish a national infrastructure bank to help finance large-scale projects, from port modernization to energy network upgrades to broadband deployment, as President Obama is expected to propose in his budget. This financing will help private sector infrastructure projects get off the ground, creating thousands of construction jobs in the process. Another example of a bill that would support increased exports is Rep. Albio Sires’s MOVE Freight Act, which would create a grant program to fund development projects that help move goods to market more efficiently. All of these will help our manufacturing businesses make their products in America and sell them around the world.
"The third core component that we need to address is encouraging manufacturers to bring innovation and jobs back to the United States. We are the world’s leading innovation economy, but when manufacturing moves abroad, research and innovation will follow. For some industries, this has already happened.
"As Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, warned in 2010: 'There’s more at stake than exported jobs. With some technologies, both scaling and innovation take place overseas. …The U.S. lost its lead in [advanced] batteries thirty years ago when it stopped making consumer electronics devices. Whoever made batteries then gained the exposure and relationships needed to learn to supply batteries for the more demanding laptop PC market, and after that, for the even more demanding automobile market. U.S. companies did not participate in the first phase and consequently were not in the running for all that followed.'
"The U.S. cannot afford to lose our best researchers and innovators, and Congress can take steps right away to prevent this from happening by offering tax incentives to businesses to keep doing research here and to move more production back home so it can be located closer to the lab, which fuels greater innovation.
"We can start by permanently extending the R&D tax credit and expanding it. Rep. John Carney of Delaware has a bill to do so, which will help businesses invest in developing new products and commercializing new discoveries. Congress can also take action on Rep. Bill Pascrell’s Bring Jobs Home Act. That bill eliminates the tax deduction companies can take on moving expenses when they send jobs abroad – and it institutes a new credit to encourage them to move jobs back home. We have to create an environment in which making things in America is profitable – not only to lure jobs back but to keep them here.
"Finally, we need to train and secure a highly skilled twenty-first century workforce. American businesses can only remain competitive when they have the trained and educated workers they need.
"One bipartisan bill, the AMERICA Works Act, sponsored by Rep. Brad Schneider, will strengthen our skills-training programs to make sure workers are getting the preparation and certifications they need for in-demand jobs. At the same time, Congress should work on a bipartisan basis to create industry-led partnerships and develop programs that train workers in career-ready skills to help set those out of work on pathways to secure jobs. In addition, I will be co-sponsoring legislation with Rep. Bill Enyart called the Job Opportunities Between Our Shores – or 'JOBS' – Act, which will encourage public-private partnerships between manufacturers and community colleges or workforce investment boards to train workers in advanced manufacturing skills while linking them with potential employers.
"Part of investing in a skilled workforce must be to retain foreign students who come here to study. Too often, we are training talented young individuals, but then our broken immigration system means we lose them to companies overseas. As part of comprehensive immigration reform, we must include an expansion and streamlining of visas for those trained in science, technology, engineering, and math – or 'STEM' fields. These STEM visas will enable us to remain a beacon for the world’s greatest minds and hardest workers who want to join in building the world’s most competitive economy right here in America. As discussions on comprehensive immigration reform move forward in the coming weeks, STEM visas must be part of the conversation.
"If we can make progress in these four key areas – (1) adopting and pursuing a national manufacturing strategy; (2) promoting exports; (3) encouraging businesses to bring jobs and innovation back to the U.S.; and (4) training and securing a twenty-first century workforce – we can make a significant, positive impact on job creation and economic growth.
"From the very beginning, Democrats set out to write and promote Make It In America legislation that has a real shot at bipartisan support. These four core components for action in the 113th Congress are, I believe, the best opportunity we’ve had in a long time to bring the parties together to make progress on tackling a major national challenge.
"With compromise in short supply these days on Capitol Hill, working together on these four core components of Make It In America – with their broad support – could help us build greater trust and show the country that Congress can still achieve results.
"Passing legislation in the areas I outlined will send a message to the business leaders we’ve met with that Congress is listening – and that we have their backs as they do what American businesses have always done best.
"It will be up to Democrats and Republicans together whether we will share the credit for success or share the blame for continued dysfunction and lack of progress. So, Congress must now get to work. I hope that, over the coming weeks, Democrats and Republicans will take action together to move Make It In America legislation forward – so that we can move America forward together.
"It is long past time for Congress to work cooperatively and constructively to put America on a path of growth and job creation and fiscal stability. Don’t just take my word for it. In his book, also titled 'Make It In America,' Andrew Liveris, President & CEO of Dow Chemical, writes:
"'Government, at its best, creates a climate in which companies can fulfill their potential. That’s what American business needs. Action, not inaction. Dedicated attention, not indifference.'
"At a time when competition around the world has greatly increased, America finds herself in the grip of political division and Congressional gridlock. It is time to renew our common commitment to America’s success and growth; to its fiscal stability and strength; and to its continued promise to all Americans that you can, in fact, Make It In America.