In Advance of State of the Union Address, Sen. Brown Previews Speech, Outlines Next Steps for Boosting Ohio Manufacturing

GM Lordstown Autoworker Elizabeth Williams to Join Brown as His Guest for the 2012 State of the Union Address

Brown Outlines Plan to Boost Manufacturing in Wake of New Report Showing the U.S. Has Lost 28 Percent of its High-Tech Manufacturing Jobs Since 2000, Primarily to China and Other Asian Countries

 Brown Calls for House Passage of His Bipartisan Bill Cracking Down on Chinese Currency Manipulation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In advance of the President’s State of the Union address, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) previewed the speech and outlined his legislative priorities for 2012 on a news conference call today. Brown will be joined at the President’s address this evening by Elizabeth Williams, a General Motors Lordstown autoworker and single mother of two.

“At last year’s State of the Union, President Obama spoke about the need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-compete other countries. Our ability to do so requires us to out-manufacture them—to stamp the Made in America label on products sold around the world,” Brown said.  “The most recent jobs report noted 23,000 manufacturing jobs were added in December—affirming that manufacturing is critical to an economic recovery.”

On the call, Brown discussed recent data compiled by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) showing positive projections for new employment in Ohio’s auto industry. Brown outlined how the auto assistance not only stabilized Chrysler and General Motors, but helped save and add manufacturing jobs throughout the State of Ohio.

“As we’ve seen with the auto rescue – there is a role for government to play in supporting manufacturing. Make no mistake: rescuing the auto industry was about saving American manufacturing and saving Ohio from a depression,” Brown added. “It wasn’t just about three companies in Detroit, but about the hundreds of suppliers and thousands of workers who are the backbone of Ohio’s economy. Between 2009 and 2010, we added more than 3,000 new auto jobs in Ohio. By 2015, Ohio will add more than 3,500 new jobs on top of that.”

Brown also outlined next steps to support American manufacturers, in the wake of a new National Science Board report showing a 28 percent loss of high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States, and highlighted new trends in the U.S.-China auto parts trade. Since the U.S. established permanent normal trade relations with China and China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, the United States’ deficit with China on auto parts trade has increased ten-fold, from $1.03 billion in 2001 to a projected $10.27 billion in 2011. On the call, Brown urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Currency Exchange and Oversight Reform Act, bipartisan legislation authored by Brown that represents the biggest bipartisan jobs bill—at no cost to U.S. taxpayers—passed by the Senate last year.

Brown discussed a recent ruling by a federal appeals court last month that would hamstring the ability of the U.S. to fight back against cheap Chinese imports by imposing countervailing duties (CVDs). Brown is working with House and Senate colleagues to enable the Commerce Department to impose tariffs and other duties against Chinese imports that benefit from illegal export subsidies. The December ruling came on the heels of China’s decision to apply new anti-dumping duties on American-made automobiles.

Through the enforcement of trade law and the application of countervailing duties, Ohio jobs have been created. In December 2009 and September 2010, Brown testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on behalf of Ohio steel workers, including those at U.S. Steel in Lorain, V&M Star in Youngstown, and Wheatland Tube Co. in Warren. The ITC's ruling in the December 2009 case led to a border measure on imports to support domestic producers of steel pipe. By addressing illegal Chinese trade practices, this decision helped increase demand for domestic production. It also played a critical role in V&M Star's decision to build a new, $650 million seamless pipe mill in Youngstown, bringing an estimated 350 regional jobs along with it. One of Elizabeth Williams’ sons works at the new V&M Star plant. 

“Tonight, my hope is that the president outlines a strategy that strengthens American manufacturing – and America’s middle class,” Brown continued. “That starts with enforcing trade law, which may be the best jobs plan that has the added benefit of not costing taxpayers any money. “Despite positive projections, now is not the time to rest—especially as overseas competitors are ramping up. American auto makers and auto workers can compete with anyone, but not if we’re playing on an unlevel playing field. And between export subsidies and currency manipulation, it’s no wonder that since 2001, the U.S. auto parts deficit with China has grown exponentially. So while there are jobs to be retained and created in the auto sector, we have to remain vigilant and we have to use trade enforcement tools to level the playing field for Ohio auto parts manufacturers.”