Much like the factory campaign stop, manufacturing is a good word to mention in a debate.
Tuesday’s economic debate provided a lot more substance than Republican debates past. That said, most of our questions about America’s manufacturers and workers went unanswered. Much like the factory campaign stop, manufacturing is a good word to namecheck for a nice little bump at the polls. But none of the candidates on stage Tuesday evening offered many details on how to help make it in America.
Here’s what we found with a simple Ctrl + F of the transcript.
MANUFACTURING – 3 mentions from Rubio and Bartiromo
“… fully utilize our energy resources so we can reinvigorate manufacturing … For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.” – Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Rubio received a big round of applause from the audience on this (and a lot of fact checks). Fact checks aside, we largely agree with the point he was making about training. Manufacturing doesn't happen in your grandfather’s factory anymore – it’s a high-skilled, clean work environment.
Creating a seamless system of training from high school to community college to the factory floor for a new generation of workers will boost American manufacturing's competitiveness and provide a viable career path for millions of Americans.
And though Rubio was technically wrong in his comparison of wages, manufacturing does provide a wage premium. Full-time manufacturing jobs pay thousands of dollars more each year on average compared to jobs in other economic sectors, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
“… Many economists expect a recession to hit the U.S. within the next year due to the weakening of manufacturing. The next president will have to deal with it. …” – Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business
The U.S. economy has showed steady, sustained growth since the Great Recession, but manufacturing has all but flatlined this year. “Underneath the euphoria over a good topline employment number is this fact: Manufacturing hasn't gained a single net job since January,” said AAM President Scott Paul.
The Wall Street Journal, co-host of last night’s debate, suggested last week that “[the U.S. economy] may not be able to grow strongly until the global environment improves and the [manufacturing] sector’s outlook brightens.”
CURRENCY MANIPULATION – 3 mentions from Trump
As we had hoped, Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker did ask Donald Trump about his opinion on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, specifically currency manipulation. To which he responded:
“Yes. Well, the currency manipulation they don’t discuss in the agreement, which is a disaster. If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States — China in particular, because they’re so good. It’s the number-one abuser of this country. And if you look at the way they take advantage, it’s through currency manipulation. It’s not even discussed in the almost 6,000-page agreement. It’s not even discussed.” – Donald Trump
None of the other candidates chimed in on the subject, even though the debate was full of interruptions.
INFRASTRUCTURE – 1 mention from Trump
“[W]e have a country that’s going to hell, we have an infrastructure that’s falling apart. Our roads, our bridges, our schools, our airports, and we have to start investing money in our country.” – Donald Trump
Everyone agrees that our infrastructure needs work. If Republicans are looking for a way to grow the economy and create jobs, infrastructure is a good start. Improving our nation’s roads, rails, and airports will make the U.S. economy more productive and therefore more competitive. Oh, and infrastructure investment would support around 2 million jobs, too!