What Would a Full-Fledged Manufacturing Policy Look Like?

Sunday, 26 January 2014 11:08 By Dave Johnson, Campaign for America's Future | Op-Ed
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This morning's Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) AAM Early Shift Digest email asks, "What would a full-fledged manufacturing policy look like?"

In this moment of calm, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is getting its ducks in a row. This week we're watching for hints of manufacturing policy from the Obama administration ahead of next week's State of the Union.

So ... What would a full-fledged manufacturing policy look like?

Here are AAM's suggestions:

  • First: Infrastructure investment. Enough of it to repair and upgrade our roads, bridges, ports, and energy grid.
  • Second: Expanded Buy American policies. Make sure that the tax dollars spent on fixing the country's pipes, so to speak, are steered toward American-made iron, steel, and other manufactured goods.
  • Third: A tax code that works for manufacturers. Increase incentives for reshoring, and only consider corporate tax reform if it retains and expands incentives for domestic research, hiring, and production.
  • Fourth: Reseed for a manufacturing workforce. Get some collaboration going between the public and private sectors so young people and the long-term unemployed have a spot in America's manufacturing economy. Industry won't work without people to work in it, after all.
  • And fifth: Back a trade agenda that emphasizes reciprocity and balance. America's trade deficit is so big that doctors think it might have some sort of thyroid problem. We need to reconsider how economically healthy it is to run an annual deficit with China that tops $315 billion.

Why Don't We Have A National Manufacturing/Economic Strategy?

I want to say this about that: Our international competitors have national manufacturing strategies. THEY see themselves as countries, and they compete with us as if we were a country. But we do not respond as a country, so they win.

Here in the U.S. we have succumbed to a corporate/conservative/libertarian ideology that says we have to be separate from each other, on our own. The ideology dictates that it is wrong to act together – "collectively" – to solve our problems. This anti-government, anti-community, anti-country ideology dictates that the last thing we should do is have a national ... anything – and, of course, no national strategies for competition with countries that are coming after us as a country.

The result? Our 2012 trade deficit was $540 billion. That is $540 billion drained from our economy.

Imagine what $540 billion of orders for goods and services made and/or done here would do for our economy. Imagine how many jobs would be created, factories opened, suppliers busy, etc. What you are imagining is a way to understand how much that trade deficit actually cost us in 2012.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson (Redwood City, CA) is a Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, writing about American manufacturing, trade and economic/industrial policy. He is also a Senior Fellow with Renew California.

Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience including positions as CEO and VP of marketing. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. And he was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

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