Notes from Brett - Manufacturing in America
Washington, DC, February 7, 2012
In 1982, I was a senior in high school and can vividly remember coming home to see my dad and several of our family friends around our kitchen table. It was a memory that would stick with me for life, but for all the wrong reasons. They had all just been
In 1982, I was a senior in high school and can vividly remember coming home to see my dad and several of our family friends around our kitchen table. It was a memory that would stick with me for life, but for all the wrong reasons. They had all just been laid off from the Ford plant in town where they had worked for nearly their entire lives.
My little league baseball coach sat there in tears as he asked himself how he would provide for his family. This scene was repeated in hundreds of households all across our community.
Our family was fortunate because my dad had gone to college between shifts and had created options for himself. After the Ford plant’s closure, he moved into an apartment with my mom and two brothers. He sold our home and used his entire savings to buy equipment. He risked everything for the dream of a new opportunity for himself and our family.
It was the biggest risk of my father’s life when he moved our family to Bowling Green, but he was willing to take it because he knew that Kentucky offered a strong workforce and affordable electric rates. Without this competitive environment, his business never would have survived. Today that company employs over 400 people.
A strong manufacturing base is key to turning our economy around and getting our nation back on the right path. The U.S. is still the top manufacturing nation in the world, but as any employer or employee can tell you, there are numerous challenges to maintaining our competitive edge, both domestically and internationally.
We cannot control the fact that we live in a global economy. China and India are leading the way, with other nations in the developing world close behind.
What we can control is creating a better environment for manufacturers in the United States. This starts with a national energy plan, a reformed tax code and a more business friendly regulatory environment.
During my first term in Congress I worked on the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, which provides for job training programs, adult education and vocational rehabilitation services. For manufacturing to grow, it is critical that we have a well trained work force.
Last year, I was appointed to the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee, which our Chairman formed in order to address the challenges faced by manufacturers.
On February 6, 2012, through this committee, I chaired a forum on manufacturing and global competitiveness with real manufacturers in the field.
This forum, titled ‘Make it Easier to Make it in America,’ focused on obstacles and opportunities facing American manufacturers today. Mike Baker, of Kentucky Aluminum Network and the Hancock County Industrial Foundation, was kind enough to participate in the discussion.
The forum found that lower taxes, more sensible regulation and better training for our workforce were essential priorities for successful manufacturing in America.
At the end of the day, the solutions are ready and available; the only thing impeding our next manufacturing boom is inaction. Congress must break down these barriers and heal the self-inflicted wounds of taxation and regulation that are hampering our economic recovery.