Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke at the National Association for Manufacturers' 2012 Manufacturing Summit today, where he discussed House Democrats' Make It In America plan. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Right now, in this room, many of you are busy typing away on your smartphones, broadcasting snippets of information to the remotest corners of our world. Texting, tweeting, email – all have become ubiquitous tools in the transfer of information and the latest step in the march of innovation. We live at an exciting moment when we can feel the pulse of change literally in our fingertips.
“A hundred years ago, Americans were experiencing this same feeling of living on the cutting edge of innovation. Electricity, the telephone, motorized transport – all of the developments in industry and technology imbued our people at the dawn of the twentieth century with an optimism that America would become the greatest producer of goods on Earth.
“Their faith was not misplaced. It is very doubtful, however, that they could not have imagined the scope of our advances in science, technology, and communications.
“This raises the question: what will our world look like a hundred years down the road? We must ask ourselves: can we repeat that extraordinary performance? And we must answer confidently: yes!
“We may not be around to witness how far we’ll have come, but we can lay the groundwork today to shape that future world and America’s place in it.
“I believe – and I am sure you will agree – that doing so begins with manufacturing.
“Economic indicators show manufacturing to be the brightest spot in our recovery. The Institute of Supply Management purchasing managers’ index continued to show growth in May, representing the thirty-fourth consecutive month of manufacturing gains, and manufacturing productivity increased 5.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. Industrial production, as measured by the Federal Reserve’s Industrial Production Index for Manufacturing, has surged 20% from its lowest point in June 2009.
“The private sector as a whole has been adding jobs for the past twenty-seven months straight, and, undoubtedly, manufacturing has been a prime contributor to this trend, with half a million manufacturing jobs created since January 2010 – and with many non-manufacturing jobs created in communities that have benefitted economically from new manufacturing investment.
“Manufacturing jobs traditionally have been jobs that pay well and help working families rise to the middle class. Right now, with millions still out of work, our best strategy for job creation over the near and long terms is to invest in our manufacturing sector.
“As you well know, manufacturing has a larger multiplier effect than any other sector, generating – dollar-for-dollar – more output from other sectors of the economy. In order to capitalize on recent gains and make sure their effects are widely felt, it simply makes good economic sense for Congress to encourage further manufacturing growth.
“House Democrats’ plan to do so is called Make It In America. Our aim is to help your manufacturing businesses succeed and grow, which in turn will lead to greater opportunities for American workers, their families, and entire communities.
“Those are the two meanings of Make It In America. First, we want to help you “make more” products here – build it in America, grow it in America, and sell it here and around the world. Second, by doing so, you’ll help more Americans “make it” here in this country – that is, do well, move up, and realize the promise of the American Dream.
“Our Make It In America plan is multi-pronged in its approach, combining tax incentives for moving production here with federal investment in infrastructure, education, and innovation – all the things necessary for businesses to expand and grow. And, as well, we must ensure that regulations do their needed job without impeding and preventing the growth we need.
“This also includes export assistance. President Obama, in his 2010 State of the Union address, set an ambitious goal to double American exports by 2015. We are now on pace to meet that goal, thanks in part to bipartisan efforts that passed three free-trade agreements last year and reauthorized the Export-Import Bank in May.
“I was proud to join President Obama when he signed the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization into law. Many of you were there. In doing so, he extended its charter and expanded its financing authority by 40% over the next three years. Support from the National Association of Manufacturers was instrumental in securing the bipartisan coalition that passed the Ex-Im reauthorization through both chambers with strong majorities – including unanimous support from Democrats in the House.
“Ours has long been the party of manufacturing in America, and we will continue to be your champion in Congress as we work to pass more Make It In America legislation into law.
“This was the case in 2009, when our auto industry was on the brink of collapse. While some said it should simply be allowed to fail, President Bush, President Obama, and Democrats in Congress placed a bet on America’s auto workers, and that bet has paid off. Today, auto manufacturing is thriving and helping to lead our recovery.
“While creating jobs in the short term is a central goal of our plan, it is not the only goal. Make It In America is an ambitious, forward-looking legislative program that will set us on a course for long-term economic competitiveness. That’s why we call for strategic investments in education, innovation, and support for research, development, and deployment of advanced technologies that will help us achieve greater domestic energy security, provide energy for manufacturers, and continue our pursuit of an all-of-the-above energy policy.
“Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical, has spoken eloquently and compellingly about the need to do all of that in his book: Make It In America.
“An all-of-the-above energy policy, of course, includes investing in natural gas, wind, solar, and cutting-edge biofuels. And nuclear power, as well. Advanced energy technologies have enormous potential as a catalyst for sustained economic growth – an area where our competitors are hoping to overtake us. But we have a significant advantage our competitors might not have accounted for: the indomitable American spirit of enterprise, hard work, and constant innovation.
“But Liveris and Andy Grove, of Intel, and others have warned us that, if production goes overseas, inventors, innovations, and developers will follow.
“One way to make sure that spirit of enterprise is allowed to thrive is by simplifying our corporate tax code and rationalizing our regulatory environment. Businesses should be freed to make decisions that make the most business sense – the best economic outcome, rather than the best tax outcome. Our current system is far too complex. There is a growing bipartisan consensus that we can bring down rates, increase international competitiveness, and broaden the base to raise the level of revenue necessary to fund investments in infrastructure, education, and innovation that will help maintain America as the leading economic power.
“Innovation has always been the key to success in American business. Our competitors have been funding research and development with the future in their crosshairs. Our Make It In America plan prioritizes strong investments in innovation and research so we can help your businesses continue to compete successfully in the global marketplace. We cannot afford to let our competitors be the only ones with their eyes focused on the distant horizon.
“We’ve also seen our global competitors graduate more and more engineers and students with the technical skills needed in the twenty-first century. If we’re going to compete, manufacturers need a skilled and trained workforce. Our Make It In America plan invests in partnerships between businesses, community colleges and local workforce development professionals to train our next generation of skilled workers. It also includes the AMERICA Works Act, which will prioritize training programs that lead to industry-recognized, nationally portable credentials. We also ought to be moving forward with a bipartisan reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act that invests in long-term skills attainment, especially for those workers facing the greatest hurdles to finding jobs. Our workforce is the most productive in the world, and we want to give American workers the chance to do what they do best.
“Innovation and public investment in education and infrastructure were responsible for the advances that made our country into the world leader it is today and fulfilled the distant dreams of Americans at the dawn of the twentieth century.
“But the America inherited by future generations of Americans a century from now depends on what work we begin today.
“When President Kennedy spoke to your organization in 1961, he declared: ‘The hour of decision has arrived. We cannot afford to “wait and see what happens” while the tide of events sweeps over and beyond us.’
“This year the American people will make a choice about the direction of this country. We can choose between those with a bold plan for the future and others who have chosen to take no action on manufacturing and instead simply to ‘wait and see.’
“We can choose between those who are willing and ready to ‘go big’ – and achieve a serious and comprehensive solution to deficits – and those who instead have held our fiscal future hostage.
“Let me reiterate what I’ve said many times before: achieving comprehensive deficit reduction would be the greatest possible stimulus to our economy. It would restore certainty to our markets so businesses like yours can invest with confidence and grow.
“Reducing deficits and creating jobs are the two most important issues facing our nation today, yet we have seen little movement on either from this Congress. We must not put America’s creditworthiness at further risk and should not use the debt limit extension as a political football. Some countries hit hard by the global financial crisis do not have the resources to invest in growth and pursue deficit reduction simultaneously. Thankfully, we do. We just need to muster the will and the courage to do so.
“Make It In America is bold, and it is the right plan for our time. If put into action, its effects will not be felt only in our time.
“If we do carry it out, we can promise our grandchildren that, at the start of the next century, America will still be strong, and our economy will continue to lead the world.
“That is the promise we ought to make. It is a promise I know we can keep.
“Let’s not ‘wait and see what happens.’ Together, let’s make it happen.”