Sen. Brown Chairs Hearing Of Senate Banking Subcommittee To Examine Obama Administration’s Manufacturing Agenda

Hearing Examines Progress Made to Date, Future Strategies for Boosting American Manufacturing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today chaired a hearing of the U.S. Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy entitled “The Obama Administration Manufacturing Agenda.”

 

“Our nation’s spirit of innovation helped send humans to space and developed the technology needed to defend our nation and cement our status as an economic superpower. But we’re at risk of this slipping away unless we develop a coherent national manufacturing strategy,” said Brown in his opening statement. “In fact, it has been a long time since we have even asked ourselves if we need a national manufacturing strategy. Absent such a strategy, our economy has tilted away from manufacturing, with disastrous results for the nation’s middle class.”

 

“One thing we can agree on across party lines is that a strong industrial base is critical to creating economic prosperity and maintaining American global leadership. It is critical to the economic strength and national security of our nation – and to the future of our middle class. For Ohio, and for our nation, manufacturing matters,” Brown continued. “On behalf of auto workers and machine shop owners; clean energy entrepreneurs and the manufacturing cities and towns across Ohio, I’m hopeful that we finally have an Administration that also believes it matters.”

 

The witnesses for the hearing included Mr. William Strauss, Senior Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Ms. Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services, U.S. Department of Commerce; and Mr. Roger D. Kilmer, Director of Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), U.S. Department of Commerce.

Described as “Congress’ leading proponent of American Manufacturing,” Brown has held a series of hearings as Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy to examine ways to revitalize American manufacturing. These hearings include: (1) "Lessons from the New Deal", exploring how to apply New Deal era strategy to today's economy, (2) "Manufacturing and the Credit Crisis," evaluating challenges manufacturers face in the current recession; (3) "The U.S. as Global Competitor: What Are the Elements of a National Manufacturing Strategy", examining how best to establish a national manufacturing policy; (4) "Restoring Credit to Manufacturers," investigating the challenges U.S. manufacturers face in the current recession; 5) "Weathering the Storm: Creating Jobs in the Recession," outlining priorities to stimulate job growth and expand manufacturing; and (5) "Restoring Credit to Main Street: Proposals to Fix Small Business Borrowing and Lending Problems.”

Brown has also introduced a package of key legislative proposals aimed at bolstering the competiveness of U.S. manufacturers. He is the author of the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act, legislation that would help small to medium-sized manufacturers become more energy-efficient or transition to the clean energy supply chain. Brown also authored the  Trade Enforcement Priorities Act, legislation that would give the federal government more authority to address trade barriers that undermine American workers and manufacturing. This includes the reinstatement of Super 301 authority, which provides support to the U.S. Trade Representative to combat export barriers. Finally, Brown is a coauthor of the Security in Energy and Manufacturing (SEAM) Act, legislation that would expand and improve the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (48C) program.

Brown’s opening statement at the hearing is below.

 

In America, we have always been good at making things. We are blessed with ingenuity, grit, and the drive to compete. American manufacturers and workers helped lay down rail lines and highways and built aircraft, computers, and semiconductors.

 

In turn, workers were rewarded with a pathway to the middle class – good wages to provide a home and economic opportunity for their children. Our nation’s spirit of innovation helped send humans to space and developed the technology needed to defend our nation and cement our status as an economic superpower.

 

But we’re at risk of this slipping away unless we develop a coherent national manufacturing strategy. In fact, it has been a long time since we have even asked ourselves if we need a national manufacturing strategy.

 

Absent such a strategy, our economy has tilted away from manufacturing, with disastrous results for the nation’s middle class.

 

Since 1987, manufacturing’s share of GDP has declined more than 30 percent. And while manufacturing declined, the financial services industry expanded – by almost 30 percent over the same time period.

 

This is troubling for several reasons.

 

First, jobs in the manufacturing industry pay more on average than service jobs and have strong multiplier effects – supporting 3-4 jobs in other sectors of our economy.

 

Second, in our history, manufacturing has led the economy out of recessions because it tends to respond quickly to changing economic conditions while creating tangible wealth.

 

Since the beginning of the Bush recession, we’ve seen profits at large financial institutions and other service firms increase dramatically. At the same time, our nation’s unemployment rate is still hovering at 9.5 percent.

 

Unlike wealth created by the click of a mouse, wealth created by expanded production requires an expanded workforce.

 

This Subcommittee has conducted nearly a dozen hearings on the challenges and opportunities facing American manufacturers in the 21st century. There are short-term challenges– such as the dire need for auto suppliers to access credit, the competitive disadvantage from unfairly subsidized imports.

 

And there are long-term challenges, such as how we maintain the capacity to supply our military forces and develop the capacity to secure energy independence.

 

This morning, we’ll hear from two of the Administration’s point people on developing and implementing a manufacturing agenda. One lesson this Subcommittee has learned is that there is no silver bullet in a national manufacturing strategy.

 

Rather, as we have heard in this room over the past year – and as I’ve heard in factory plants and businesses across Ohio – we need a strategy that combines a predictable climate for investments and innovation with sector-based workforce training.

 

We need a strategy that ensures strong supply chains and opens new markets. Domestic manufacturers need our government to enforce trade rules that, when breached, undermine the ability of our nation’s manufacturers to compete domestically and abroad.

 

And a national manufacturing strategy must leverage our investments in energy and our defense industrial base.

 

Our government has taken steps to coordinate agencies through the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services, whom we will hear from this morning. President Obama has also named a senior counselor for manufacturing, Ron Bloom, following his work in the restructuring of the auto industry.

 

Today we will hear how the Obama Administration is helping to rebuild American manufacturing as a way to rebuild our economy. 

 

One thing we can agree on across party lines is that a strong industrial base is critical to creating economic prosperity and maintaining American global leadership. It is critical to the economic strength and national security of our nation – and to the future of our middle class.

 

For Ohio, and for our nation, manufacturing matters. On behalf of auto workers and machine shop owners; clean energy entrepreneurs and the manufacturing cities and towns across Ohio, I’m hopeful that we finally have an Administration that also believes it matters.

 

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