WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today pressed President Obama on the need for a national manufacturing policy. At the Senate Democratic Issues Conference, Brown pointed to clean energy work in Ohio – highlighting Toledo’s emerging solar energy sector and Oberlin College in Lorain – to bolster his case for a comprehensive strategy that invests in American manufacturing. The U.S. is one of the only industrialized nations without a national manufacturing strategy.
In his question to President Obama, Brown referenced several Ohio communities:
"Thank you for your visit to Lorain County, Ohio. A week and a half ago was the first presidential visit to that county of 300,000 since Harry Truman in 1948. Ten miles from there at Oberlin College, one of the great private institutions of higher-learning in this country, there was a building built there seven or eight years ago, fully-powered by solar panels – it’s one of the largest buildings at any college campus in America. But those solar panels were bought in Germany and Japan. Not surprisingly, Germany has both an energy policy and a manufacturing policy. Seventy-five miles west of there is Toledo, Ohio, where you’ve been several times. Toledo has more solar manufacturing jobs than any city in America. It begs the question of two things in terms of manufacturing policy and energy policy. We have all kinds of things in so many of our states— manufacturing wind turbine components and solar panel components — and yet we’re the only major industrial country in the world without a manufacturing policy. Every rich country in the world has one; we don’t. I know what you’re doing with Ron Bloom in the White House, but how do we get there? How do we – when we read these articles in the paper that China is just exploding in terms of wind turbine manufacturing and solar panel manufacturing – how do we rebuild our manufacturing sector with a manufacturing policy combined with an energy policy that gets us there?"
Recently described as “Congress’ leading proponent of American manufacturing,” Brown has been working to establish a national manufacturing policy. As Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Brown held a series of hearings examining ways to rebuild U.S. manufacturing and strengthen our nation’s middle class. Among these hearings were (1) “Manufacturing and the Credit Crisis,” which evaluated challenges manufacturers face in the current recession; (2) “The U.S. as Global Competitor: What Are the Elements of a National Manufacturing Strategy", which examined how best to establish a national manufacturing policy; (3) "Restoring Credit to Manufacturers," which investigated the challenges U.S. manufacturers face in the current recession; and (4) “Weathering the Storm: Creating Jobs in the Recession,” which outlined priorities to stimulate job growth and expand manufacturing.
Brown has been working with the Obama Administration on the creation of a national manufacturing policy. Brown wrote Vice President Biden outlining the need for a robust national manufacturing policy. In his letter, Brown outlined five key area of focus to invest in the manufacturing industry:
- Creating a business climate, through tax and health care policies, favorable to investment in manufacturing;
- Investing in the manufacturing capacity for national priorities such as clean energy and critical military equipment;
- Strengthening our component supply chains through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP);
- Matching dislocated workers with emerging industries through sector-based workforce training strategies;
- Making the research and development tax credit permanent to lend predictability to this crucial incentive for manufacturing innovation;
- Promoting exports and defending against unfair trade.
Brown called for a high-level position to ensure that federal policy making supports job creation in our nation’s manufacturing sector. Following the president’s appointment this fall of Ron Bloom as Senior Counselor on Manufacturing Policy, Brown praised the decision and continues to meet with Bloom.
As a leading voice on clean energy manufacturing, Brown authored the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act, which would establish a $30 billion Manufacturing Revolving Loan Fund to help small and mid-sized manufacturers transition to the clean energy economy through retooling. The bill would also expand the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in order to help manufacturers access new export markets. The bill is estimated to have the potential to generate more than $100 billion in revenue for clean energy businesses and create 680,000 direct manufacturing jobs and nearly two million indirect jobs nationwide over five years. Ohio already ranks fourth in the nation for clean energy jobs with clean energy industries as one of the fastest growing emerging sectors in the state’s economy. Within the last three years, Ohio has attracted more than $74 million in clean energy venture capital.
Brown is also fighting to ensure that our nation’s trade laws work for domestic manufacturing and American workers. Brown is the sponsor of the Trade Enforcement Priorities Act of 2009, legislation that would give the federal government more authority to address trade barriers. The legislation would require the U.S. Trade Representative to analyze trade barriers that have the most adverse effect on U.S. exports and employment, and crack down on these unfair practices. In November, marking the ten-year anniversary of the World Trade Organization (WTO) demonstrations in Seattle and the Nov. 30-Dec 2 WTO ministerial in Geneva, Switzerland, Brown reintroduced the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment (TRADE) Act, which he first proposed last year. Brown’s bill would revamp U.S. trade policy by mandating trade pact reviews, establishing higher standards, protecting workers in developing nations, and restoring Congressional oversight of future trade agreements.