President Biden heralded his economic achievements against a backdrop of Republican opposition to some of his signature laws.
President Joe Biden’s “Investing in America” tour brought him to West Columbia, S.C., on Thursday, where he announced solar equipment provider Enphase Energy’s $60 million investment across all its U.S. manufacturing lines, alongside its manufacturing partner Flex. Enphase anticipates that its West Columbia factory will bring 600 jobs alone and 1,800 jobs total for its U.S. factories – “all a direct result of the Inflation Reduction Act,” Biden said.
“Folks, it’s no accident. It’s Bidenomics in action,” Biden said.
Since Biden assumed office in 2021, companies have invested more than $500 billion in manufacturing and clean energy manufacturing, according to a White House fact sheet. Across the country, these investments have generated 800,000 manufacturing jobs.
Though the industrial policy that brought these projects to fruition are hallmarks of the Biden administration, Republican congressional districts are largely claiming the factory boom. One of the biggest investments in the U.S. solar supply chains stems from solar panel manufacturer Qcells. This January, the company announced a $2.5 billion expansion of its manufacturing facility in Dalton, Ga.
Biden made sure to point that out on Thursday.
“You may find it hard to believe, but that’s Marjorie Taylor Greene’s district,” Biden said during his speech in South Carolina. “I’ll be there for the groundbreaking.”
Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul said in a Financial Times article exploring the irony: “It’s going to be harder for Republican lawmakers to say these policies aren’t effective or aren’t worth it because they’re seeing jobs being produced in their communities.”
Biden also spotlighted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) for their opposition to the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Every Republican member of Congress voted against the Inflation Reduction Act. Every one. Every Republican member of the House in this state voted to repeal the clean energy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act that attracted all these jobs. You know, and then, after that effort failed, the Republican Study Committee, which includes over three-quarters of the House Republicans, just released a plan to go at trying to repeal it all again. That hasn’t stopped them, though, from claiming credit. Now that billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are coming to the United States.”
The economic growth that the United States has seen during the Biden administration has become a cornerstone of his 2024 presidential campaign as Biden continues his “Investing in America” tour, which concludes July 15. But Biden also forecasted further efforts to “build the bottom up and the middle out.”
“I’m not here to claim victory on the economy,” Biden said Thursday. “I’m here to say we have a plan that’s turning things around quickly, but we have a lot more work to do.”
Part of that work must include modernizing trade tools though any mention of trade enforcement was absent from Biden’s speech. On Thursday, the Census Bureau reported that the U.S. goods trade deficit with China swelled to $25 billion in May – up from $20 billion the previous month
“While the trade deficit with China is down year over year, this month’s rise is alarming — and we remain concerned about the CCP’s plans to boost growth through exports. That has always meant more dumping, endangering the progress made in reshoring critical industries like semiconductors.
“Modernizing trade tools will be an important defense. Congress should pass the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 to equip American workers to take on some of China’s most egregious trade practices. As diplomatic and trade negotiations restart, policymakers must push back.”
Introduced in June by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) and in the House by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Frank Mrvan (D-Ind.) and Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas), Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 aims to equip American workers with the trade enforcement tools they need to fight back against China and other repeat trade offenders.
The legislation would establish a new type of anti-dumping/countervailing duty investigation that makes it easier for petitioners to bring new trade cases when repeat offenders shift production to another country. Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 would also expedite successive investigations.
As bad trade actors become more and more cunning in dodging trade law, new innovative trade tools are needed. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has been calling for such legislation since April 2022.
It’s time to give American workers the trade enforcement tools they need to compete. Join us in telling Congress to pass Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0.