Commentary | Jobs and Unemployment

“Make it in America” bills will advance U.S. manufacturing

The U.S. House of Representatives is to be applauded for passing a series of bills last week designed to help the manufacturing sector recover from the Great Recession and the loss of 5.6 million manufacturing jobs in the past decade. These bills are part of a larger, 17-bill “Make in America” initiative announced in mid-July by House Democrats. One measure would create an Emergency Trade Deficit Commission that would identify the causes and consequences of the trade deficit and of “significant, persistent bilateral deficits.” The Commission would develop policies and recommendations for reducing trade deficits. 

The House passed three additional manufacturing measures this month. The Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act would promote exports of clean energy goods and technology with a $75 million fund. The National Manufacturing Strategy Act would require the administration to develop a manufacturing strategy and submit it to Congress for approval. The Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act is designed to bring together education, labor, workforce, and other groups to align training and education with local employers’ needs in specific industries.     

Both the House and the Senate also passed the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act, which reduces miscellaneous tariffs on a group of products no longer made in the United States but needed by U.S. manufacturers. 

For 110 years the United States has been the leading manufacturing country in the world. However, as Representative Daniel Lipinski (D., Ill.) noted, “The United States is about to lose that perch to China.” One of the most important steps Congress can take to rebuild U.S. manufacturing is to end Chinese currency manipulation. One of the best ways to do that is for Congress to pass legislation that would impose a tariff on Chinese imports if the Chinese government fails to raise the value of its currency by at least 40% by a date certain. Congressman Sander Levin (D., Mich.), Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, will be holding hearings on the China currency issue on September 15. The time is now for swift, specific action to end currency manipulation. 

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