No offense to Taylor Swift, but the White House’s industrial policy-themed tour is the hottest of the spring. Does The Eras Tour feature stops semiconductor fabs and fiber optic cable factories?
President Biden flew down to North Carolina on Tuesday to officially launch the administration’s “Investing in America” tour, a three-week jaunt that will highlight how industrial policy is attracting hundreds of billions of dollars in private investments, creating well-paid factory jobs, and strengthening American manufacturing.
The tour will aim to spotlight four key pieces of policy — the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the American Rescue Plan — and their positive impacts on the economy. Biden will make several stops, as will members of his cabinet, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff.
One of the overarching goals of the tour is to show how initial taxpayer investments can incentivize robust private sector spending. All told, there have been $435 billion in private sector investments in American manufacturing since Biden took office, the president said.
Roughly 800,000 factory jobs have been created, and 12.4 million jobs have been created overall.
“I’ve asked CEOs this question repeatedly since we’ve begun passing this legislation, ‘When the United States invests considerable resources in new industry, does it encourage businesses to get in the game or discourage them?’ And the answer is universal: It encourages business to get in the game,” Biden said. “Federal investment attracts private sector investment. It creates jobs and industries, and it demonstrates we’re all in this together.”
Biden gave his speech during a visit to the Wolfspeed semiconductor manufacturing facility in Morrisville. The company is making a $5 billion investment in the plant — the single largest manufacturing investment in North Carolina history — to make semiconductor wafers.
When completed, the building will be the size of 38 football fields, and all that new production will allow the U.S. to have 10 times the productive capacity for wafers compared to what we have today, Biden said. Roughly 1,800 new jobs will also be created, with average salaries of $80,000 a year for workers without a college degree, Biden noted.
“We’re determined to lead the world in the production of semiconductors,” Biden said. “We invented semiconductors in the United States of America.”
Alliance for American President Scott Paul said in a statement that the industrial policy highlighted on the tour shows that the Biden administration is “on the right track” when it comes to revitalizing American manufacturing. But all of this work must be the “first step, and not the last word,” Paul noted, continuing:
“Sustaining the success of the Biden administration’s manufacturing agenda depends on proper implementation of Buy America provisions in the infrastructure law, and further investment in key sectors to ensure our nation’s place as a global leader. As geopolitical tensions increase, the strength of America’s manufacturing base is more important than ever. Industrial policy is our ticket to a brighter future.”
As Paul noted, sustaining these successes over the long term is really the key to all this work. Remember that the United States had a robust solar manufacturing industry at the start of the 21st century; it nearly all evaporated after a few years thanks to lax investment and, more importantly, a surge in unfair imports from China. Now, we’re spending billions of dollars to try to bring it back.
That’s why the United States must make sure investment isn’t the only strategy; we also must enforce our trade laws. And we should keep in mind that building a strong manufacturing sector isn’t just about creating jobs (although that’s important); it’s also about ensuring that the United States has the capability to make the things we need.
“Before the pandemic, the supply chain wasn’t something most Americans thought about,” Biden said. “When you said the supply chain, you’d look at each other with a blank stare. Well, guess what? Everybody knows what the supply chain is because today, after delays in parts and products folks experienced, every knows that’s why it’s so important… my economic plan brings the supply chain home.”
Biden said a foreign leader “who will remain nameless” asked him why he was enacting policy like the Inflation Reduction Act, and Biden recalled that he said that the United States is “no longer going to have to wait for product from other countries, you’re going to have access to what we do, but we’re going to have the supply chain start in America, building a clean energy future made in America.”
Indeed, Biden highlighted his work to grow manufacturing throughout his remarks on Tuesday, arguing that his administration has enacted policy that reversed decades of decline that was overseen by Democrats and Republicans.
“Corporate America decided to go when the jobs were the cheapest, and guess what? America lost its edge in manufacturing, lost its edge across the board, and we did that for decades,” Biden said. “Now we’re creating jobs, we’re exporting jobs no longer. American products are being made here, we’re growing the economy.”
We’ll be following the Investing in America tour over the next three weeks as it makes its way across 25 states. On Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is set to speak at a newly expanded Corning factory in North Carolina that will make fiber optic cable to expand broadband access.