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The Editorial: A Plan We Can All Get Behind

March 1, 2012
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There are a lot of ideas floating around Washington these days regarding the health and importance of U.S. manufacturing and what should be done about it.

The trouble is, they are typically put forth by organizations with an ax to grind. Organized labor wants one thing; manufacturing management wants another. Domestic producers of raw materials want protections against cheap overseas competition. Domestic consumers of those materials prefer the market just the way it is.

Given such conflicting demands, not to mention the pressures of party politics, it’s not surprising that our elected leaders disagree on how to solve the problems facing U.S. manufacturing—or even that there are problems.

Fortunately, one organization has been able to cut through the morass and come up with an objective assessment of U.S. manufacturing and a comprehensive plan for reinvigorating it. In December, the nonpartisan Council on Competitiveness issued Make: An American Manufacturing Movement. The 88-page report outlines five key challenges facing U.S. manufacturing. More importantly, it offers several specific recommendations for addressing each one.

The report was developed with input from manufacturing executives, labor leaders, university presidents and laboratory directors. The report’s recommendations run the gamut from tax reform and trade policy to education and energy.

The report’s suggestions include:

♦ Reduce taxes on repatriated earnings to less than 5 percent.

♦ Cut the corporate tax rate to 22 percent.

♦ Require federal agencies to reduce the cost and complexity of regulations.

♦ Launch trade liberalization negotiations with Brazil, China, India, the European Union, Japan and the Trans Pacific Partnership Countries.

♦ Support the participation of high-school students in engineering and manufacturing projects oriented towards work in production-related fields.

♦ Launch a national manufacturing apprenticeship program maintained and operated through shared staffing and financial contributions from both labor and industry.

♦ Create incentives for multiuser advanced manufacturing facilities capable of rapid reconfiguration to support fabrication of a wide range of products.

♦ Provide incentives or joint ownership opportunities for private-public partnerships to invest in infrastructure projects benefiting U.S. manufacturing, such as ports, railroads, the electric grid, and information technology infrastructure.

To learn more about the council’s recommendations, turn to the article beginning on Page 42 or click www.compete.org/publications to download the Make report for yourself. Better yet, attend our virtual trade show, Tech ManufactureXPO, on May 2 to hear Jack McDougle, the council’s senior vice president for manufacturing, discuss the report in detail during his keynote address. To register, visit www.techmanufacturexpo.com.

Either way, you won’t be disappointed. This is one plan we can all get behind.

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