Campaign advertising focused on jobs and trade during the 2012 election cycle totaled an estimated $700 million nationally, Gazette guest columnist Scott Paul points out.
“The fact that the campaigns spent so much money on these issues suggests that they knew what voters know: We need a jobs plan, one focused on making things in America,” said Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, in a column published Saturday.
“In the last decade, we’ve lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs to overseas competitors, particularly China,” Paul said. “Simultaneously, our trade deficit with that country has grown. The deficit with China for September was $29.1 billion — the second highest monthly deficit yet recorded. For the whole of 2011, our trade deficit with China came to a record $295 billion, and we’re on track to exceed that number in 2012.
“So instead of continuing to forfeit a crucial sector of our economy to a global competitor, what can we do about it? Plenty,” Paul continues, offering a series of suggestions, including:
“Give American businesses new tools to counter China’s currency manipulation, industrial subsidies, intellectual property theft and barriers to market access. Get tough on trade cheats.
“Apply ‘Buy America’ provisions to all federal spending so domestic firms get the first shot at procurement contracts. If American businesses are capable and competitive, this one is a no-brainer.
“Condition federal loan guarantees for energy projects on the use of homegrown supply chains for construction. The recent boom in American energy production can and should be a vehicle to put more homegrown firms to work.
“Dedicate more federal education funding for technical skills programs to address looming worker shortages in the manufacturing sector. Make sure we’ve got a class of engineers and tradesmen to fuel the next surge of industrial innovation in this country.
“Ensure the benefits of tax reform go to companies that make things in America, not to Wall Street banks or retailers who don’t really face global competition.
“In short: Establish a concerted national policy to restore America’s manufacturing base and the good jobs that come with it,” Paul concludes. “Politicians need to follow through on their promises to fight for American jobs and hold trading partners like China accountable when they cheat on their agreements.”
Do you agree with Paul? What, if anything, should Congress do to help restore U.S. manufacturing?