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President Obama will very likely talk about "Made in America" in the State of the Union, but will he propose real, concrete efforts to rebuild U.S. manufacturing?

If you want to win a bet next Tuesday, wager your friends that President Obama will say “Made in America” in the State of the Union address. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to a sure thing.

“Made in America” is a wildly popular notion across the
political spectrum. The President has uttered the phrase dozens of times over the past year. So, it shouldn’t be shocking for him to say it on January 24. But, what’s behind the rhetoric? Is there any “there” there? That’s what I’ll be looking for on Tuesday evening.  

It’s fair to say that this administration has showered more attention on American manufacturing than it has seen for a long time, and that our sector of the economy has stabilized somewhat after years of serious decay. But, treading water simply isn’t good enough while China passes us, and our high unemployment rate threatens to sink us.

What the President has proposed so far on advanced manufacturing, insourcing, and skills is all positive, but it is also minor league compared to the efforts of our global competitors. The administration’s rescue of General Motors and Chrysler has been good for our economy and consumers (who now have better cars from which to choose), but it was more akin to emergency
room care than to a long-term strategy to regrow manufacturing. That’s one of the reasons why America’s share of global manufacturing has declined.  It’s also why Germany still has over 20 percent of its economy in manufacturing while in the U.S. the number is closer to 11 percent.

We know the American people want the White House and Congress to go “all in” for manufacturing. That means better tax, investment, education, and trade policies. There is plenty that the President could do on his own—right now—without having to wade through Congress. As the White House is fond of saying, “we can’t wait.” For instance, the White House could:

  • Keep our trade laws strong and strictly enforced. Refocus the trade agenda by giving American businesses new tools to counter China's currency manipulation, industrial subsidies, intellectual property theft, and barriers to market access.
  • Condition new federal loan guarantees for construction of energy projects on the utilization of domestic supply chains. Approve additional applications for renewable and traditional energy projects, contingent on the use of American-made materials.
  • Expedite small business loans through the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department to help firms expand, retool, and hire.
  • Convene a multilateral meeting to address global imbalances and in particular Chinese mercantilism. If China doesn't agree to participate, designate it a currency manipulator. (China ships more than one-quarter of its exports to the U.S. and finances less than 10 percent of our public debt, so we have more leverage than some might suggest.)
  • On the heels of the landmark agreement with automakers on fuel economy standards, secure an additional agreement from all foreign and domestic car companies to increase their levels of domestic content by at least 10 percent over the next three years.
  • Direct the Department of Defense to leverage existing procurement to contractors that commit to increasing their domestic content of our military equipment, technology, and supplies.
  • Promote energy conservation and security by promoting the retrofitting of public buildings with American-made materials and manufactured goods, and support private sector efforts to increase industrial energy efficiency.

There is also plenty that Congress can and should do, as well. Quite honestly, failing to pass any of these proven, popular policies will result in self-inflicted wounds for our economy.

  • Work with congressional leaders to adopt a large-scale, long-term infrastructure plan of at least $500 billion over six years. Leverage capital from private investors for large-scale transportation and energy projects by using creative investment measures, such as the establishment of a national infrastructure bank that delivers low-cost loans or loan guarantees.
  • Reshape the tax code in a revenue-neutral way to provide incentives for job creation and inward investment. Research and development tax credits should help firms that not only innovate in America, but also make their products here. We should lower tax rates for manufacturing activity in America and expand and renew incentives such as the 48(c) clean energy manufacturing tax credit and up-front expensing for plant and equipment purchases.
  • Shift some education investment to rebuilding our vocational and technical skills programs, which would address looming shortages of qualified workers needed in the manufacturing sector.

These policies aren’t partisan or ideological. Taken together, they will make a real difference. A strong manufacturing base is critical to many of our economic and strategic goals: rebuilding the middle class, lowering our budget deficit and the debt we owe to China, and ensuring that we have the ability to innovate. China’s not waiting for us.

If the President really wants to see “Made in America” stamped on products shipped all over the world, he needs to be bold. We’ll be watching. And so will voters.

Originally posted to ManufactureThis on Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I believe that ...... (11+ / 0-)

    all this outsourcing is really about driving down the wage scale of Americans.

  •  Remember the year (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    he said "we will double our exports..."

    with an actual industrial policy?  No.

    "... with more 'Free Trade Agreements.'"

    I want to limit the power of government. Specifically, I want to limit the power of government to create artificial superpeople and give them the same rights as human beings.

    by happymisanthropy on Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 11:59:57 AM PST

  •  Made in America (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lineatus, Ann T Bush, kurt, Clues, DrFaustus, gmb

    I seriously doubt that there will be any bold new initiative that bolsters US manufacturing. Our remaining industries have been bought up, bundled together, had all of the available revenue skimmed off, and then resold.

    I've been a victim of this practice several times in the last two decades. The end goal after these transactions occur is to maximize the profit for the "investor" (product quality be damned).

    Since those same "investors" now own both political parties through unlimited anonymous donations ( as if they don't know where the money is coming from!) There can be no bold initiative that would harm the return on investment to the candidate (pick the name, pick the party affiliation).

    Washington DC is a for profit industry. Those in power profit by playing to the real power, (The Investor Class).
    The investor power needs only make a phone call, or call a meeting, and DC puppets dance to their music.

    The real power keeps the DC power in office if DC power pleases them. In today's environment, Mr. Smith would never survive his trip to Washington.


    My wife and I served in the Cold War. It seems our efforts were fruitless. We have a new enemy, and if not, we will create a new one.

    by Millrat on Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 04:28:54 PM PST

    •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think we need to work on a new dictionary of terms so that people can understand what is going on in our country.  Any time I hear a politician or MSM talking head talk about the "investors," "efficiency," and "worker productivity," I realize that those are mostly code for the need to work or less and less in order to keep quarterly profit margins growing exponentially so that people who don't actually do any work can continue to reap enormous amounts of wealth.

      "When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it." - Gerald Celente

      by DrFaustus on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 06:17:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Union jobs? (5+ / 0-)

    Funny, you made no mention of the role of unions.  Why is it that labor always gets shuttled aside when priorities are being set?  Two recent Obama decisions widely applauded by progressives were in opposition to positions set out by the affected unions.  I'm not going to relitigate the merits of those issues here, but if progressives really and truly want new jobs to be union jobs, please say so with the same fervor as was brought to opposing SOPA and Keystone.

    Unless you really don't care if these are union jobs or not...

    •  Union Jobs (5+ / 0-)

      Unionlawyer, I would agree.

      I see (and if you review my posts, you will see that I have never belonged to a union), a new need for Unions to fight.

      The guys I hire are being paid what I made in the '80's. How is that even acceptable?


      My wife and I served in the Cold War. It seems our efforts were fruitless. We have a new enemy, and if not, we will create a new one.

      by Millrat on Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 04:34:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  my automechanic (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gmb, papa monzano, beforedawn, Dirtandiron

        I took my car in to a small autoshop chain in my region.  While I was making small talk with the mechanic he seemed a little down talking about the economy.  He told me he made more as a mid level mechanic in the 90's then he does now and he is the shop manager.  The end of unions hurt all workers' wages whether they are union or not.

        "When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it." - Gerald Celente

        by DrFaustus on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 06:21:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  A well edited piece that misses by a mile (6+ / 0-)

    The core of the manufacturing sector has been ripped out from small parts suppliers to tool and die makers. Not to mention raw materials. The best we can hope for is "assembled in America" until the pull on the supply chain is large enough to incentivize parts manufacturers to set-up operations here. That may also mean foreign parts makers . I don't care who owns it, just make it here.

    Until people understand the damage that has been done to the manufacturing sector over the last 30 years there will be no progress. There are also less people trained as plant managers to to line workers.

    The competition is also way ahead of us: FoxxConn in China has committed to buy 1 Million robots to replace a large portion of their work force. How about competing against 0% labor?

     Automation is the key and unfortunately that only creates limited job opportunities unless we are committing to exporting to the world again. As long as it's a long term goal, it will never get started thanks to Wall Street.

    No CEO, including Tim Cook at Apple, is going to step out and say "Ok we are shifting manufacturing here". Unfortunately in order to do it on a large scale, a company like Apple has to lead the way. Yet their main supplier of cheap labor is now going into cost containment so the variable cost of labor is minimized in the cost equation.

    Noble goal, but it ain't gonna happen unless a Black swan event occurs where the supply chain is permanently interrupted.

    •  business is a math game (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmb, beforedawn, Dburn

      I am probably one of the most populist America-firsters around here and even I would outsource if I were a CEO because government free trade, tax, and the corporate structure require it. Solyndra went under not because it was some giant ponzi scheme, but because they just could not produce domestically and sell at prices that people will by at.  Until our politicians stop giving speeches "asking" corporations to bring jobs here and change the rules of the game to favor domestic industry, we will continue our race to the bottom.

      "When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it." - Gerald Celente

      by DrFaustus on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 06:29:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wish I could more easily buy American made (7+ / 0-)

    clothes. It's a challenge out here in rural USA so I have to shop online while feeling conflicted about local business but locally it's either funky hippie or  very expensive tailored clothing and those are my choices. I can't even find an American made tee-shirt locally. Not a single one. I do like the excellent quality of USA made and union made work clothes. People forget what it's like to have things that are actually comfortable, safe and that last for a long makes me look a bit more "butch" than I actually am but what the hey - there's always the weekend.

  •  unless you are the author (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DrFaustus, gmb

    shouldn't you mention that large parts of this was written by trade organization in the link you provided?

    •  Collective dKos accounts (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmb, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Dburn

      My curiosity isn't strong enough for me to go look at the FAQs(I am sure there is a policy on this), but I have noticed a few names around here that sound like an organization name and link back to their websites.  That being said, I do rec this diary and hope it is not somebody violating the FAQs by copying someone the work of someone else.

      "When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it." - Gerald Celente

      by DrFaustus on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 06:37:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The war on Social Democracy is the real battle (14+ / 0-)

    Allthough the proposed changed listed in the diary above as a whole are at face value good things, I doubt the Republican super rich elite which controls so much of what is left of our manufacturing base would ever seriously endorse it.

    The ugly truth is whole sections of our manufacturing economy was destroyed on purpose because it was unionized and these union members had a tendency to support broad based social democratic ideas and solutions when they voted for progressive Democratic candidates who could articulate a broad progressive agenda with all the small faults one could find when speaking about this past history.

    I fully understand this very broad generalization does not address union locals who kept out black workers or the small amount of right-wing working people who never understood they were biting the hand that fed them.

    The last thing elites in American board rooms want is to empower workers in the United States in any form period and this cruel selfish mind set goes far beyond a hatred of unions.

    Hence a now thirty year opposition to training by supporting trade schools, apprenticeships or any form of public education via taxes that by its very nature leads to a more social democratic landscape. American elites have been waged a obvious covert war on the whole notion of social democracy and many have said so when they thought there was no one there writing down their comments.

    Additionally  too many Americans bought into the silly idea we could all be small businessmen or genius technology gurus like Bill Gates and some how things would just all work out.

    It is no accident hundreds of right wing talking heads have regularly used Western Europe as an rhetorical punching bag that somehow fully funded public education, mass rapid transit and a more restrained and regulated form of capitalism is in reality evil Socialism and have convinced  far too many people that taxing the rich to use said wealth to direct industrial development, or build a decent education system is what has brought down the United States over the last thirty years when if fact it the abandonment of social democracy is the  precise reason our nation is circulating the drain.

    I am reminded and it peeves me to no end that all through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s right wingers have proudly screamed that 85% of board room members are Republicans and that their leadership is the only leadership this country needs; hence the idea that only billionaire moguls of some type are suited to running the country.

    Yet no one has to explain why then they have moved almost all of our capital overseas to first third world shit holes and when this did not work out too well then decided to invest in a once communist country like China which understood their greed better then they did themselves.

    The only explanation that rings true anymore is the American corporate elite is nothing more than a modern version of plantation masters and really do think the population of the world only true purpose to serve them and make them rich regardless of the social cost and dam the consequences.

    In this political environment it becomes all too clear the reason they opposed taxes of any kind is because it make any Democratic or social democratic strategy unable to deliver on anything and thus creates a political vacuum where they rule as overlords over everything by default of the fact they control all the wealth and purse strings of everything.

    Sadly before the proposals above can be fully realized the truly disingenuous ideology of corporate America must be completely exposed and defeated in a very real sense.

    I’m not saying we all must put on red arm bands and march off to revolutionary suicide, it would be nice if the Democratic Party actually articulated a real social democratic vision in a language that resonated with millions of working Americans who face a daily onslaught of economic decline and explain who clearly engineered this decline for the last forty years.

    Sadly only Bernie Sanders seems to understand this and he had to leave the Democratic Party because the DLC elite could stand to listen to him and treat him as a Kook.

    There in is the real problem; far too many elite Democrats could care less if YOU are out of work and face a bleak future and the proof is in the polices they support and do not support.

    The Democratic Party is controlled by people who are afraid to let Americans see the real truth behind this massive con game and have paid the price of increasingly false frame of equivalency yet do nothing to prove other wise when it matters.

    Far too many national Democratic leaders DID NOT show up in Wisconsin and show support for union members with friends like that who needs right wing thugs.

  •  A commercial you don't see anymore (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hoghead99, DrFaustus, gmb, beforedawn

    A union garment worker, Paula Green, won the jingle contest in 1975.  31% of all Americans belonged to a union in that year.  Not it's under 7%.

    Killing jobs is what Mitt does. It's who he is. 'Jobkiller' should be on his business card.

    by thenekkidtruth on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 03:06:36 AM PST

  •  One thing that matters is also the kind of things (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that are 'made in America'.  People who are pro-free trade frequently point out that America still manufactures 'a lot of stuff'...but the problem is similar to what happened to the jobs market, with people with advanced degrees settling for minimum wage service jobs while unable to find the jobs they used to have.

    In manufacturing, we have far fewer of the types of manufacturing jobs that are labor intensive, and far more that are more highly automated.  So while we might be producing lots of 'stuff', we're still doing it with far fewer people, while more of the labor intensive products are being made where labor is cheap.

    We need a return to not just made in America, but to support companies whose primary market is America, and to trade laws that throw high tariffs on products made in countries with low labor costs and minimal employee and environmental protections.  Fair trade, not free trade.  Free trade helps capital at the expense of labor.

  •  White Hoouse shd set example (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Easter Decorations ---should show case Made in America.

    Furnitures,  what Michelle and the kids wear - --shd showcase Made in America.

    Furnitures, Decors, etc shd be MAde in America.

    Root of Job Loss: Low capital gains (tax incentive) for stock market casino compared to real businesses that produces Jobs. Great Business idea A Dept Store that sells only made in america goods

    by timber on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 07:34:44 AM PST

  •  Election parphanelia shd be Made in America (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    papa monzano, beforedawn

    Root of Job Loss: Low capital gains (tax incentive) for stock market casino compared to real businesses that produces Jobs. Great Business idea A Dept Store that sells only made in america goods

    by timber on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 07:36:22 AM PST

  •  revenue-neutral tax code (0+ / 0-)

    I don't fully understand that phrase in terms of tax code. Can someone point me to a good link for how that can work or be applied? it appears to me to mean tax-code that's balanced between allowable credits and deductions versus paid taxes (revenue), so that the government never accrues debt or profit. Is that right? if so, how are "rainy-day funds" thought of in that context?
    it's early, and i'm not an accountant, so maybe this is a silly question.

    We keep electing whores to congress, and we wonder why we get screwed while the money flows to their pimps.

    by papa monzano on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 07:42:51 AM PST

  •  I really dislike the rhetoric of this diary (0+ / 0-)

    ...pre-defining the "good... but will it be enough?" suspicion as a platform to argue the president's future address to the nation. The diarist is attempting to control (direct) people's opinions by pre-inserting this psychological "would be dissappointment" meme while undermining what he/she figured to be the president's key message, "Made in Ameirca," as "politically popular" thus less than genuine.

    What this diary is doing folks is "disappointment and negativity mongering," and you can say that I coined the term.

    And here is another example to the "not enough" bull-shit we have been invited to build our worldview from:

    The administration’s rescue of General Motors and Chrysler has been good for our economy and consumers (who now have better cars from which to choose), but it was more akin to emergency
    room care than to a long-term strategy to regrow manufacturing. That’s one of the reasons why America’s share of global manufacturing has declined.

    When we start with the pre-arranged  "will it be enough?" platform/mindset, we know then nothing will ever be enough and that is why this diary's rhetoric stinks.

    Here is my plan: I will make my decisions on regard to president's sincerety and capability after I listen the SOTU and in the meantime would like my mind's decision making process to be left alone (unmolested), if the diarist  doesn't  mind.

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 08:58:02 AM PST

  •  made in america (0+ / 0-)

    I have sent the following to obama many times.  The time first right after he took  office.  I have changed it a somewhat over time.  if abc news can see buy American I can’t understand  why he can’t or won’t.  with the republicans in control the tax part might not work,  but the buy American certainly can’t hurt.

    Mr. President you should begin to make speeches and do radio and television public ads encouraging Americans to buy only american made products whenever possible.   You  should appeal to american patriotism as the right thing to do and as a matter of our national security because of the danger of our growing foreign debt.

    We should raise taxes on the rich and corporations to pay for at least a $2500.00 tax cut for the middle class.   At the same time giving business huge tax cuts to create manufacturing jobs in america.  If just 30% of the people used their $2500.00 to buy american, we would have almost no unemployment.  If Americans demanded American made products, business would begin to reopen American factories and hire new workers.

    I believe that instead of cutting the rates and giving the tax cuts on every paycheck, tax cuts should be given in the same manner as the stimulus checks last year.  The government could give half the families in America half the tax cut money every other quarter.  Each family would get two checks a year which would allow them to make decisions to buy large appliances, furniture, make automobile repairs, etc.

    Giving Americans a tax cut without encouraging them to use the money to buy american would be a waste of money and would only enrich china.

    We should set up very strict criteria for what could be labeled made in america. In other words not things built in foreign countries and assembled in america.  We would not have to worry about trade laws.  We could allow almost any country to import whatever they want into america as long as they allowed us to export without tariffs or other barriers.

    This is a simplistic idea but it would change america

  •  Thanks nt (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 10:17:07 AM PST

  •  zenox, really? (0+ / 0-)

    Our expectations depress you? Really?

    Having a back-round in manufacturing for the last 30 years, I can tell you all of my disappointments over the years if you care to listen.


    My wife and I served in the Cold War. It seems our efforts were fruitless. We have a new enemy, and if not, we will create a new one.

    by Millrat on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 01:38:01 PM PST

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