For generations, manufacturing has been the job-creating engine of the US economy. And for generations, Americans have looked to our manufacturing sector as a source of pride. While some want to write off our manufacturing sector, Democrats believe that smart policies today can strengthen it for years to come.
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, the US 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 Democrats 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.
Before wrapping up this summer, Congress delivered the first item on the Made in America agenda to the president. The U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act will make it cheaper for American companies to obtain the materials they need to manufacture goods.
I’ve worked with my House colleagues to pass four other job-creating bills this Congress, all of which await Senate action:
1. The SECTORS Act forms partnerships between businesses, unions, and educators to train workers for some of the most needed 21st-century jobs.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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: more are to come, as Congress continues to consider ways to help spark a manufacturing revival and level the playing field for American products. 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 two 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 bipartisan support. And I hope it continues, because the Make it in America agenda is a chance for Republicans 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.
The Make it in America 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 entrepreneurship and work ethic have long been the backbone of our economy. Now, Congress is working to ensure that the America’s economic strength and innovative prowess is not just a thing for the history books-but also the foundation of our future.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.