After Iowa: Where Do the Top Candidates Stand on Manufacturing?

By Matthew McMullan
Feb 02 2016 |
The presidential candidates are roaming the White Mountains of New Hampshire this very minute. | Photo by A. Duarte

A quick check-in as the primaries get going.

The 2016 Iowa caucuses are in the books. Hillary Clinton squeaked out a win over Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination, while in the still-crowded Republican field the race came down to three candidates: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump.

Now it’s on to New Hampshire – the Granite State! – where roughly 12 percent of all non-farm workers can be found in the manufacturing sector. And that ain’t peanuts, man.

With one primary down and 49 to go, now is a good time for a refresher on where they all stand on manufacturing policy. In the interests of brevity, we’re just going to be covering the aforementioned five candidates. But enough talk. Let’s take a look!

Killer Ted Cruz 

He hasn’t released any policy proposals that are specific to manufacturing, but Cruz says his tax reform plan would allow for the “full and immediate expensing of business equipment, which will remove the burdens imposed by the current system on heavy industry, mining, energy, farming, ranching, and manufacturing.” He’s also calling for “a more stable” (cheaper) dollar, and is promising to cut regulations across government, which Cruz says burdens businesses with unsustainable costs.

Rockin’ Marco Rubio​ 

He’s in the same boat as Cruz. No manufacturing-specific proposals, though he did give a speech on the subject in December. He’s calling for a “national regulatory budget” and tax reform, too. But Rubio is putting a big emphasis on skills training for the modern economy. That’s cool; we can get on board with that.

Heavy Hillary Clinton

Hilldog has a very specific policy paper on manufacturing, which is cool. In it she calls for tax relief and tax incentives for hard-hit former manufacturing regions; more funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program; prioritizing trade enforcement; and a “crack down on currency manipulation,” which is also a reason she gave when she expressed reservations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Clinton also wants to build on President Obama’s existing network of manufacturing hubs, expand Buy American federal procurement rules, and create a tax credit for businesses that hire apprentices. There’s more to it, and you can find it here.

Strong Bernie Sanders

Sanders doesn't have a manufacturing paper, but he cites trade deals — like NAFTA and normalized trade relations with China — with the rise of economic inequality in America. "If corporate America wants us to buy their products they need to manufacture those products in this country, not in China or other low-wage countries," Sanders cites on his website.

And last but not least:

Teriffic Donald Trump

Trump hasn't said much on manufacturing, specifically, but he's said a heck of a lot about trade, and how it affects manufacturing jobs in the United States — particularly trade with China. In fact, he caught a lot of heat about it during the last GOP debate he attended, but lost in all of his bluster were many nuggets of truth.