Manufacturing Matters

Turn Up the Heat

Soon the artificially chilled halls of the U.S. Capitol will be even colder, as members of Congress and staff head out of Washington for the annual congressional August recess. That means it’s time for manufacturers to turn up the heat in member districts. 

Recently, at the 2015 Manufacturing Summit, more than 400 manufacturers brought to Washington a simple, yet compelling message: today, with the right legislative solutions, we can unleash manufacturing—America’s economic powerhouse—to prosper and grow. 

For the first time in history, manufacturing contributes more than $2 trillion to our economy annually. Manufacturers employ more than 12 million people across the country.

These are statistics with which we are all intimately familiar.

During the Summit, members of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) shared these facts and their own stories with representatives and senators, playing a unique educational and advocacy role. The NAM has a great story to tell, and our members helped play a key role in telling it. 

When manufacturers talk, people listen. From the historic passage of Trade Promotion Authority to a landslide vote in the House for bipartisan legislation modernizing the nearly 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act, we’ve paved the way for enhanced competitiveness for manufacturers in the United States. However, despite this progress, we still have a lot of work to do. The heavy lifting still lies ahead. 

We need to stay engaged in our communities. We need to educate opinion makers in the local, state and national media. We need to hold our political leaders and the dysfunctional Washington political culture accountable.

Otherwise, the message of jobs, prosperity, economic excellence and American Exceptionalism that we brought to lawmakers’ doorsteps will dissipate in the partisan din that has defined Capitol Hill politics in recent years.

This is no time for complacency.

Right now, issues of critical importance to manufacturing— long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, tax and regulatory reform and repairing our country’s outdated infrastructure—remain hostage to the status quo.

Examples of regulatory overreach, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s repressive ozone standard and the Obama Administration’s shortsighted “net neutrality” regulations, still threaten the manufacturing sector’s ability to grow.

Restrictive trading policies, which America’s competitors use to gain an unfair advantage in the international marketplace, remain and pose a serious challenge to our nation’s economic health.

Congress will adjourn for its recess in just a few weeks. If we do not continue to reinforce and amplify what we shared at the Summit, our concerns will be a distant memory.

We started a wave of opportunity for manufacturers in the United States. Now it’s up to us—all of us—to sustain it. That responsibility falls to both CEOs and management and employees alike—and to every American. In this month’s edition of Member Focus,NAM Senior Vice President of External Relations Ned Monroe provides the roadmap.

When manufacturers in the United States succeed, America succeeds. What manufacturers have achieved already will be dwarfed by the possibilities that still lie ahead. Leadership on behalf of manufacturing starts with all of us.

Let’s lead together.

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Member Focus.