Timmons: Manufacturers’ Plan to Be More Competitive

Posted June 14, 2011 at 6:53pm

Almost 400 manufacturers will walk the halls of the House and Senate this week, urging Members of Congress and their staff to stop overregulation, support tax reform and pass free-trade agreements.

Manufacturers and plant managers are traveling to Washington, D.C., from every corner of the United States because manufacturing jobs matter, not only to families and local communities but also to our country’s overall economic health.

If you cross paths with one of these 400, you’ll find a proud manufacturer who will talk to you about the importance of the Panama, Korea and Colombia free-trade agreements. She’s losing market share each day of further delay. She’ll go on to tell you that these three trade agreements will generate $13 billion in additional exports and create about 100,000 new jobs.

You might be introduced to a manufacturer from your state who is struggling to compete with manufacturers in other countries because the U.S. now has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. He’ll explain to you that lowering the rate to 25 percent or less would enable him to make long-term plans to invest, innovate and create jobs.

You might shake hands with someone wearing a bright blue button proclaiming “Manufacturing Means Jobs” who will share how new, costly regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency have put jobs at risk and created uncertainty.

Manufacturers work very hard. It is a big decision to take time away from their businesses to join their colleagues for a visit to Capitol Hill. But they know policies matter. It is now 18 percent more expensive to manufacture a product in this country than in any other. Policymakers can make us more competitive by addressing issues such as taxes, energy prices, and regulatory and legal costs.

The National Association of Manufacturers believes that the policies outlined in our “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America” can make us more competitive in the global marketplace. Now it’s time to act to achieve the strategy’s three crucial goals:

• The United States will be the best country in the world to headquarter a company and to attract foreign investment.

• The United States will be the best country in the world for a company to innovate and perform the bulk of its global research and development.

• The United States will be the best country in the world to manufacture, both to meet the needs of the American market and to serve as an export platform for the world, where 95 percent of potential customers reside.

The United States faces stiff competition. Governments all across the world envy our economic might, and they want to take it away from us. Today, companies can choose from a number of countries, many of which are adopting pro-growth reforms to lower taxes, implement trade pacts and reduce regulatory barriers. Inaction on our part is not an option.

Last week, President Barack Obama called manufacturing the lifeblood of the American economy. The manufacturers agree, as do the almost 12 million Americans employed directly in manufacturing. We look forward to being on the Hill to build support for jobs and a strong manufacturing economy.

Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.