Barack Obama (D)
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, was first elected in 2008. Before he was president, he was a Senator from Illinois from 2005-2008 and an Illinois State Senator from 1997-2005.
Romney: Obama Isn't Working, China Stealing Copyrights
At a Master Lock factory in Wisconsin, President Obama laid out parts of his manufacturing plan, and the benefits of making it in America:
We said, in exchange for help, we're going to demand responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to restructure and retool, come up with better designs. Today, the American auto industry is back. And General Motors is once again the number-one automaker in the world. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and equipment and factories. And all together, over the past two years, the entire industry has added nearly 160,000 jobs. Well-paying jobs.
What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. What happens in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh and Milwaukee, that's what we've got to be shooting for, is to create opportunities for hardworking Americans to get in there and start making stuff again and sending it all over the world -- products stamped with three proud words: Made in America.
And that's what's happening right here at Master Lock – because of you. Over the last few years, it’s become more expensive to do business in countries like China. Meanwhile, American workers, we've become even more productive. So when John Heppner was at the White House in January, he told me how it makes more business sense for Master Lock to bring jobs back home here to Milwaukee. And today, for the first time in 15 years, this plant is running at full capacity. And that's an example of what happens when unions and employers work together to create good jobs. Today, you’re selling products directly to customers in China stamped with those words: Made In America.
Although you might not know it from watching the GOP debates, the economy is the number one issue for voters in 2012. A pair of articles today looks at how this issue is playing across the country.
Bloomberg analyzes the recovery in the Midwest, and how that will affect President Obama’s chances there:
The turnaround may shape this year’s race for the White House as President Barack Obama seeks to reverse Republican gains in the Midwest. The title of his State of the Union address, “An America Built to Last,” evoked a theme of manufacturing’s revival meant to resonate on the campaign trail.
The economies of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- all states Obama won in 2008 -- have improved faster than that of the U.S. since the recession’s depth in April 2009, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. Michigan is expected to lead all 50 states during the next six months, the Fed data show.
“We’re going back to a region we abandoned a long time ago to get energy again from rocks that were already drilled a thousand times,” said Clay Williams, chief financial officer for Houston-based National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NOV), which started in Oil City, Pennsylvania, in 1862. “We’re going back to our roots.”
Meanwhile, USA Today wants to know if the Auto Rescue will be an asset or liability for Obama and Romney:
The president's campaign views the auto storyline as a potent argument against Romney — who, even though he is the son of a Detroit auto executive, opposed the bailout. As the industry was collapsing in the fall of 2008, the former Massachusetts governor predicted in a New York Times op-ed that if the companies received a federal bailout, "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye." Romney said the companies should have undergone a "managed bankruptcy" that would have avoided a government bailout.
Three years later, Obama is trying to turn the tough decision into a political advantage in Ohio and Michigan, which Obama carried in 2008 and where unemployment has fallen of late. During last week's State of the Union address, Obama said the auto industry had hired tens of thousands of workers, and he predicted the Detroit turnaround could take root elsewhere.
Last night, President Obama’s State of the Union put manufacturing and the economy front and center. You can read the full text here, and we’ve culled some of the highlights below:
No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.
This blueprint begins with American manufacturing.
Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.
Tonight, I’m announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders.
As Mitt Romney pulls to the head of the GOP pack, it looks increasingly likely that he will be the nominee to take on President Obama. This sets up a race between two rather similar candidates. As Richard Stevenson at the New York Times points out:
Both are Harvard-educated millionaires. Both have been criticized as elitist and technocratic. Both have struggled to handle the populist anger coursing through politics.
In an election climate largely defined by the anxieties of the middle class, working people are now more likely than not to face a choice in November between two candidates who sometimes seem to have trouble relating to them. One is President Obama, who once characterized them as “bitter” people who “cling to guns or religion.” The other is Mitt Romney, currently defending himself against allegations from within his own party that he is a “vulture” capitalist and who in the last week has suggested that he takes pleasure in firing those who fail to provide good service and that politics might best be practiced by those who have paid off their mortgages.
Stevenson also notes that while Romney’s rhetoric on China is drawing him some support, both candidates are struggling to connect with the masses of disaffected blue-collar workers who feel they have been left behind by the last three decades:
Mr. Romney’s emphasis on getting tough with China is winning him attention from workers, and former workers, in industries turned upside down by global competition.
But they face substantial challenges based on the perception that they are out of touch with the values and needs of the kinds of voters who have been most affected by economic and cultural upheaval.
For most of the past decade, blue-collar, white voters have been overwhelmingly in the Republican column. Mr. Obama did much better among them in 2008 than the previous two Democratic presidential candidates had done. But in the 2010 midterm elections, they flocked back to the Republicans.
President Obama hosted the Insourcing American Jobs Forum at the White House today. His remarks included the following:
But right now, we are in a unique moment of perfect opportunity for those jobs to come back – and the business leaders in this room recognize that. For example, after shedding jobs for more than a decade, American manufacturers have now added jobs for two years in a row. That’s good news. But when a lot of folks are still looking for work, now is the time to step on the gas.
That’s why I pushed Congress to extend the payroll tax cut into this year, so that 160 million working Americans didn’t get hit with a tax hike. Now it’s time to extend that middle class tax cut for all of this year. It’s the right thing to do. Let’s get it done.
But we’ve got to do more. And that’s why, in the next few weeks, I will put forward new tax proposals that reward companies that choose to bring jobs home and invest in America – and eliminate tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.
President Obama has named Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council to lead the White House’s Office of Manufacturing Policy. As The Hill reports:
The Office of Manufacturing Policy will coordinate efforts across a host of government agencies, including the Small Business Administration and the Transportation Department, among others.
According to Monday’s administration release, Karen Mills, the SBA administrator, will take charge of the attempts to increase small manufacturers’ access to capital.
The release also said that the free trade agreements that passed with bipartisan support this year – with South Korea, Colombia and Panama – would help expand the manufacturing sector.
We’re glad to see that this administration is taking some action on this issue, but this is a small step. There is still much to be done.
President Obama delivered a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas today that focused on economic issues. In the text of the speech, it is clear that the President understands the challenges facing manufacturers, as well as the importance of manufacturing jobs:
In today’s innovation economy, we also need a world-class commitment to science, research, and the next generation of high-tech manufacturing. Our factories and their workers shouldn’t be idle. We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges, so they can learn to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries. And by the way – if we don’t have an economy built on bubbles and financial speculation, our best and brightest won’t all gravitate towards careers in banking and finance. Because if we want an economy that’s built to last, we need more of those young people in science and engineering. This country shouldn’t be known for bad debt and phony profits. We should be known for creating and selling products all over the world that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.
Today, manufacturers and other companies are setting up shop in places with the best infrastructure to ship their products, move their workers, and communicate with the rest of the world. That’s why the over one million construction workers who lost their jobs when the housing market collapsed shouldn’t be sitting at home with nothing to do. They should be rebuilding our roads and bridges; laying down faster railroads and broadband; modernizing our schools – all the things other countries are already doing to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores.
He also spoke to the natural advantage of American manufacturing jobs:
At a time when the cost of hiring workers in China is rising rapidly, it should mean more CEOs deciding that it’s time to bring jobs back to the United States – not just because it’s good for business, but because it’s good for the country that made their business and their personal success possible.
See the full speech here.
President Obama took his jobs pitch to Scranton, PA yesterday. This former stronghold of blue-collar jobs has been feeling the pinch of the great recession, and people there want to see improvement. During his speech, Obama sounded fired up:
“We’re fighting to make things right again,” he told about two thousand people packed into the bunting-draped gym at Scranton High School. “We’re fighting to make sure that if you are working hard and you are carrying out your responsibilities and you’re looking out for your family, that you can live a good, solid, middle-class life.”
Polls have consistently showed that the economy is the most important issue for voters heading into the 2012 election. President Obama will need to show how his policies are fixing the economy to help his re-election chances.
It seems like the China currency issue is getting more and more important in the GOP race for the presidency. As Politico reports, both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have taken the lead on this issue; and President Obama recently said that China must “play be the rules of the road.”
However, it is important to remember that in three years President Obama has missed every possible opportunity to name China a currency manipulator. As we have noted previously, it can be hard to translate campaign rhetoric into governing reality.
Mitt Romney has been featured on Job Search and our blog in the past for his strong stance against China’s currency manipulation. However, as NPR notes, we heard similar rhetoric from then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008. As we all know, those promises were followed by three years of complete and total inaction. China has not been named a currency manipulator, and they continue to refuse to let the yuan float.
Here’s what Romney has said about China:
We can't just sit back and let China run all over us. People say, “Well, you'll start a trade war.” There's one going on right now, folks. They're stealing our jobs. And we're going to stand up to China.
Compared to what Obama said during the 2008 campaign:
What we need to do is to just be better bargainers and say, “Look, here's the bottom line: You guys keep on manipulating your currency; we are going to start shutting off access to some of our markets,”
Nate Silver, the creator of fivethirtyeight.com and a leading political prognosticator, has put together a handy calculator to show the effect of Gross Domestic Product on the presidential election. Using the slider, you can match the president up against five potential challengers, taking into account GDP and the president’s approval rating.
This just underscores how important economic growth is to voters, and how little has been done on that subject.
The weak economy threatens to undermine the President’s re-election chances.
President Obama is in a tough spot. Even though a recent Quinnipiac University poll shows him beating all potential challengers in Ohio, the same poll shows 51% of Ohio voters disapproving of his job performance and 49% saying that he does not deserve re-election.
Voters are understandably concerned about the economy, and they haven’t seen much coming from Washington that gives them faith. People want their elected leaders to fight for jobs. The economy isn’t moving fast enough, too many people are unemployed, and Washington isn’t doing anything to fix this.
Yesterday, we asked a poll on our Facebook page, asking which of the candidates you think will do the most for manufacturing jobs. President Barack Obama won, with 79 votes.
However, the second-place finisher, with 43 votes was the write-in “None of the above.” Don’t forget: we get the government we deserve. If you want to hear better ideas, demand that candidates listen to you.
Stepping up his efforts to sell his jobs bill to the American People, President Obama visited North Carolina where he visited a WestStar Precision Factory that makes high-tech, high-precision machines for commercial, industrial, and other related manufacturing. After touring the factory, the President gave a speech where he touted the benefits of the American Jobs Act to North Carolina, including tax relief to 170,000 small businesses and funding to prevent the layoffs of 13,000 teachers and firefighters.
However, Republicans were quick to note that WestStar Precision also operates a factory in Costa Rica and accused the president of supporting a company that exports jobs.
President Obama unveiled his jobs plan today, urging Congress to quickly pass the American Jobs Act. As Politico reported, “The measures in the bill, the American Jobs Act, include tax credits for employers to make new hires, funding to prevent layoffs of teachers and first responders, money for infrastructure and school construction projects, and a tax break that would amount to about $1,500 annually for middle-class families.”
We’ll be sure to track this bill as it winds its way through Congress, and will keep you updated on the reactions from GOP Candidates.
Washington is finally starting to focus on ways to create jobs, but
the question remains whether the recent obsession with deficits will
continue to stand in the way of constructive bipartisan dialogue. Last
week before a joint-session of Congress, President Obama outlined the
basics of his $447 billion American Jobs Act. Meanwhile, the
so-called “super committee” is already at work looking for ways to
reduce the deficit while hopefully stimulating economic growth with
targeted tax incentives for hiring, investments in infrastructure, and
American voters spoke clearly over the summer months, pleading with their members of Congress to place more emphasis on job creation and to stop bickering about budget deficits. In fact, according to recent AAM polling, two-thirds of voters would rather see Congress creating jobs. Here’s a look at some items that have been discussed in recent days that would potentially benefit American manufacturing companies and their workers. As you will see, many of these items fared well among likely voters.
Infrastructure Investment. The
President has proposed immediate investments in infrastructure and a
National Infrastructure Bank to help modernize our crumbling roads,
rail, airports, locks and dams, and other infrastructure. Congress
should immediately enact a robust, multi-year reauthorization for
transportation infrastructure projects and advance other creative ways
to leverage private sector investment through an infrastructure bank.
The President and Congress should include language to ensure that
U.S.-made goods are used to the fullest extent possible when tax dollars
are being used to build infrastructure. Adding a Buy America preference
to all infrastructure investment creates more jobs – 33% more according to researchers at the University of Massachusetts in 2009. It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars only to see jobs created abroad.
• 89% support investing “more in rebuilding and repairing bridges, roads, and other basic infrastructure.”
• 90% support Buy American policies “to ensure that taxpayer funded government projects use only U.S.-made goods and supplies wherever possible.”
Tax Incentives for Investment. The President has proposed extending a tax provision through 2012 that allows companies of all sizes to immediately deduct the cost of new investments in plant and equipment. In June, the New York Times reported that “businesses’ spending on employees has grown 2 percent as equipment and software spending has swelled 26 percent” since the start of the recession. This leads us to ask whether there improvements to be made to ensure that the benefit is shared by workers.
• 90% support tax incentives for companies that “invest in new equipment and plants for manufacturing.”
The package will soon be sent to Congress where modifications will likely be made. We have a few suggestions – as outlined in a recent piece by Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) executive director Scott Paul – that would help to rebalance our economy and provide a level playing field for American workers.
Reshape the tax code in a revenue neutral way to provide incentives for
job creation and inward investment. R&D tax credits should help
firms that not only innovate in America but also make their products
here. Lower tax rates for manufacturing activity in America and
eliminate tax shelters for hedge funds or financial transactions that
have no real value.
• 94% support a tax benefit for companies that conduct R&D in the U.S. and make their new products here.
Skills/Training. Shift some education investment to rebuilding our vocational and technical skills program, which would address looming shortages in the manufacturing sector.
• 91% support increasing investment in “retraining and education programs to ensure workers gain the tools they need to compete in modern, high-tech factories – up 4% from 2010.
Trade Enforcement. Refocus the trade agenda by giving American businesses new tools to counter China's currency manipulation, industrial subsidies, intellectual property theft and barriers to market access.
• 95% favor keeping “America’s trade laws strong and strictly enforced to provide a level playing field for our workers and businesses.”
• 59% say we need to “get tough with China and use every possible means to stop their unfair trade practices…” – only 34% say we need to “be careful…because they own such a significant portion of our debt.”
• 86% say we should penalize nations like China that manipulate exchange rates and implement trade barriers to gain an unfair trade advantage.
President Obama laid out his jobs plan in a speech before Congress last night. With poll after poll showing that the American people want leaders to focus on job creation, Washington needs to take serious steps in this direction. The speech has some good ideas, but it remains to be seen how many of these will survive the legislative process and become law. He also spoke to his support of jobs training programs that will help build a manufacturing workforce:
Already, we’ve mobilized business leaders to train 10,000 American engineers a year, by providing company internships and training. Other businesses are covering tuition for workers who learn new skills at community colleges. And we’re going to make sure the next generation of manufacturing takes root not in China or Europe, but right here, in the United States of America. If we provide the right incentives, the right support -- and if we make sure our trading partners play by the rules -- we can be the ones to build everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors that we sell all around the world. That’s how America can be number one again. And that’s how America will be number one again.
Read the full speech here.
President Obama is scheduled to deliver a major address after Labor Day on new initiatives for job creation in the U.S.
There's no need to wait until September, though, to learn what the President and Congress can do to create new jobs. The Alliance for American Manufacturing's (AAM) executive director Scott Paul has published an op-ed in The Hill listing key steps that are needed right now to jumpstart the nation's industrial sector and generate new jobs.
Specifically, President Obama can take steps that have little or no cost for the U.S. treasury, including:
• Expedite small business loans through the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department to help firms expand, retool and hire.
• Convene a multilateral meeting to address global imbalances and in particular Chinese mercantilism. If China doesn't agree to participate, designate it a currency manipulator. (China ships fully one-third of its exports to the U.S. and finances less than 10 percent of our public debt, so we have more leverage than some might suggest.)
• On the heels of the landmark agreement with automakers on fuel economy standards, secure an additional agreement from all foreign and domestic car companies to increase their levels of domestic content by at least 10 percent over the next three years.
• Direct the Department of Defense to leverage existing procurement to contractors that commit to increasing their domestic content of our military equipment, technology and supplies.
• Approve additional applications for renewable and traditional energy projects, contingent on the use of American materials in construction.
• Kick any CEO off of federal advisory boards or jobs councils who has: (1) not created net new American jobs over the past five years, or (2) is expanding the company's foreign workforce at a faster rate than its domestic workforce. Replace them with CEOs who are committed to investing in America. Shame is a good motivator.
Mitt Romney attacked President Obama for refusing to stand up to China. In his 2008 campaign, Obama promised to “take China to the mat” over unfair trade practices. However, he has so far failed to live up to this promise. At a time when most Americans care about jobs, there are several steps that the President could take with China to promote and support American jobs.
Unfortunately, Romney seems to be focusing on intellectual property theft instead of the bigger issues of currency manipulation and unfair trade practices.