For generations, manufacturing has been the job-creating engine of our economy. And for generations, Americans have looked to our manufacturing sector as a source of pride.
It’s true that manufacturing has taken a severe hit in the recession. In fact, it’s been struggling for quite some time: over the past decade, America lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs. If we want to turn that trend around, and if we want to create the jobs we need to emerge from these hard times, we need to encourage a strong manufacturing industry.
That’s why my colleagues and I have launched the Make it in America agenda: a plan to boost manufacturing by investing in industry and innovation, improving manufacturing infrastructure, strengthening the American workforce, and creating a level playing field for American companies to compete worldwide. The goal is secure, good-paying, middle-class jobs—and we have some momentum to build on. Since the beginning of this year, our private sector has created 136,000 new manufacturing jobs. But with millions of Americans still out of work, we must and will do more.
This agenda builds on what we have being doing here in Missouri’s Fifth District to make smart investments so that every person who wants a job can find meaningful work. Whether at Claycomo, Fairfax, Smith Electric Vehicles, QM Power in the Green Impact Zone or Dow Kokam in Lee’s Summit, we have spent the last year knitting together Recovery Act resources to position our community in front as the new economy evolves.To that end, this week we sent the first item on the Make it in America agenda to the President’s desk: the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act. This legislation makes it cheaper for American companies to obtain the materials they need to manufacture goods. And the House has passed five more job-creating bills on the agenda, which are waiting for Senate action.
The SECTORS Act forms partnerships between businesses, unions, and educators to train workers for some of the most needed 21st-century jobs.
The National Manufacturing Strategy Act directs the president to work with industry and state leaders to build a manufacturing-boosting strategy every four years—the same kind of strategy that countries like China, India, the U.K., Germany, Brazil, and Canada already have in place.
The Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act ensures that clean energy technology firms have the information and assistance they need to compete at home and abroad.
The Emergency Trade Deficit Commission bill is intended to develop policies that will combat the trade imbalance and promote the export of American goods.
The House also passed a bill providing additional resources for the Patent and Trademark Office to unclog its backlog of 1.2 million patent applications so innovative ideas can move to market more quickly.
These bills are only the beginning. For instance, Congress will soon hold hearings on China’s exchange rate policy, which has a significant impact on the competitiveness of American manufacturing. All of these steps will bolster President Obama’s plan to support 2 million more jobs by doubling U.S. exports over the next five years—a plan that has already seen some success, with exports of U.S. goods up $22.4 billion from last year.
I’m glad that these ideas have won support from both sides of the aisle. I hope the cooperation continues, because the Make it in America agenda is a chance for my colleagues in the minority party to change their year-and-a-half policy of standing almost unanimously against every effort—from job creation and help for small businesses to support for the unemployed—that can strengthen a middle class hit with the greatest economic crisis of our lifetimes.
This agenda is an essential part of our economic recovery. It is a commitment to restart a dynamic source of job creation and to ensure that America competes fairly and profitably in the global marketplace.
American innovation and work ethic have long been the backbone of our economy. They’re the reason why the “Made in America” label has been sought and admired throughout the world. The Make it in America agenda means making sure that success isn’t simply a proud part of our history—but the foundation of our future.