At the National Association of Manufacturers’ headquarters last week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James and NAM CEO Jay Timmons announced a major victory for manufacturers. The EPA has decided to withdraw the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that was finalized during the Obama administration.
Manufacturers and others have criticized the rule since 2015, arguing that it was overly broad and went much further than the Clean Water Act allowed. In some cases, the rule—which was supposed to regulate places covered in water—was used to control land that is not wet. Opponents of the rule warned that it threatened manufacturing jobs while failing to adequately protect clean water, and a patchwork of legal challenges created uncertainty across the country and paralysis among the businesses and landowners affected.
“The EPA and the Department of the Army finalized a rule to repeal the previous administration’s overreach in the federal regulation of U.S. waters and recodify the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that previously existed,” said Wheeler. “Last week’s Step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for Step 2—a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, homebuilders and developers nationwide.”
“This decision by the EPA clears away a vague and onerous rule that put impossible burdens on manufacturers and other landowners nationwide,” said Ross Eisenberg, Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “Americans deserve clean water, and that requires smart water policy that is practical and effective.”
Over the past four years, the NAM submitted multiple sets of comments regarding the 2015 WOTUS rule to better inform policymakers. In addition, the NAM supported President Donald Trump’s 2017 executive order instructing the EPA to rescind the rule, and the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action has been in active litigation against the rule since July 2015. The legal battle included a unanimous victory for the MCLA at the U.S. Supreme Court on a key procedural issue, and earlier this year federal judges invalidated the rule.
With the 2015 WOTUS rule now rescinded, the NAM is continuing its work to provide policy insight and expertise for a new version of the rule that is consistent with the Clean Water Act and protects American waters while providing certainty for manufacturers and landowners around the country.
“Manufacturers will continue to fight for fair and clear regulations that empower us to be responsible stewards of the environment while growing the U.S. economy,” said Eisenberg. “Our industry represents more than 12.8 million employees in communities across the country, and we are committed to ensuring that the environment in which they live and work is safe, clean and well-protected.”
This week, the National Association of Manufacturers helped move the manufacturing industry forward on three major fronts.
- The NAM’s workforce and education partner, the Manufacturing Institute, announced it will expand Toyota North America’s successful FAME apprenticeship program nationwide. The MI’s Executive Director Carolyn Lee, the NAM’s CEO Jay Timmons, Special Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, TMNA’s Executive Vice President Chris Nielsen and Ingersoll Rand CEO Michael Lamach shared this news during a roundtable with FAME apprentices.
- At the NAM’s headquarters, Export-Import Bank President and Chairwoman Kimberly Reed participated in a roundtable with manufacturers to discuss the critical bank reauthorization.
- Also at the NAM’s headquarters, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James joined Timmons to announce the finalization of a rule to repeal the controversial 2015 Waters of the United States rule and clear the way for a new rule to protect America’s water resources without overstepping the bounds of the law.
Washington, D.C. – Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James joined National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons at NAM headquarters to announce the finalization of a rule to repeal the controversial 2015 Waters of the United States rule and clear the way for a new rule to protect America’s water resources without overstepping the bounds of the law. Manufacturers sought this action from the EPA and for decades have advocated for clear rules to protect clean water and provide long-term certainty for economic growth.
Today, EPA and the Department of the Army finalized a rule to repeal the previous administration’s overreach in the federal regulation of U.S. waters and recodify the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that previously existed, said Administrator Wheeler. Today’s Step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for Step 2—a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, homebuilders and developers nationwide.
America is now one step closer to smart and balanced regulation that protects our nation’s precious water resources, said Timmons. Courts already declared the 2015 rule illegal, following years of litigation that included a 9-0 victory for the NAM at the Supreme Court, so manufacturers are pleased to see it officially struck from the books. The old water rule, which sought to regulate dry land, was confusing and counterproductive. Manufacturers are committed to environmental stewardship, so now we look forward to a new, more effective rule to protect clean water.
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.38 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org
Today, more than 200 companies and organizations called on the U.S. House and Senate to pass a “robust and long-term reauthorization” of the Export-Import Bank before its charter expires at the end of September.
As the U.S.’ official export credit agency, the Ex-Im Bank’s mission is to support American jobs through facilitating U.S. exports. Since 2000, the Ex-Im Bank has supported nearly $450 billion in exports from thousands of mostly small- and medium-sized companies and helped support over 2.5 million American jobs.
The Ex-Im Bank has become more important in recent years given the rise of other countries’ export credit agencies, from China’s three agencies to those in Germany, Canada and beyond, making Ex-Im Bank a vital tool to level the playing field internationally for industries in the United States that need to increase foreign export sales to continue creating well-paying American jobs.
“With more than 100 foreign export credit agencies seeking to help their industries and workers win sales at the expense of ours, manufacturers and their American workers need Congress to do its job and secure a long-term and robust reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank before the end of September,” said Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Economic Affairs Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “Failure to act quickly will put billions of dollars in exports and tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs at risk.”
Kimberly Reed, who serves as the Chairman and President of the Ex-Im Bank, joined the NAM this week for a roundtable on the Bank’s importance to agricultural and manufacturing exports, explaining how the Ex-Im Bank can provide support for businesses of all sizes in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
Manufacturers across the U.S. know that allowing the Ex-Im Bank’s charter to lapse would put our country’s businesses at a disadvantage in an increasingly global market, undermining future access to foreign customers. Even a short disruption can have serious effects; according to NAM estimates cited in the letter, when the lack of a board quorum curtailed the Ex-Im Bank’s activities in 2015, manufacturers in America lost $119 billion in output, resulting in 80,000 fewer American manufacturing jobs in 2016 and 2017 alone.
Reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank has extensive, bipartisan support in Congress, reflected in the cosponsorship of the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2019, which was introduced by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) with broad backing. With the Bank’s charter set to expire, Congress has limited time to prevent a serious blow to manufacturing workers, farmers and other industries in America.
“With increasing headwinds in the U.S. and global economies, a long-term, robust Ex-Im Bank reauthorization is just the type of action businesses and workers need to create more certainty so that they can grow investment and operations across the country,” said Dempsey. “With American competitiveness and jobs on the line, there is no time to waste.”
When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017, it enacted a temporary reduction in federal taxes on beer, wine and spirits. Now Congress is considering making those tax cuts permanent.
The bipartisan Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act would extend tax cuts that have allowed producers, distributors and other businesses to invest and grow. According to the Beer Institute, the beer industry provides more than 2.2 million American jobs, generating more than $350 billion in economic output. The tax reduction in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was estimated to save the industry $130 million per year. If that reduction becomes permanent, the industry can continue growing operations, hiring workers and creating benefits for communities nationwide.
“As a manufacturer and brewer in the United States, we’re pleased to see the tax break on brewers large and small reintroduced,” said Anheuser-Busch Chief External Affairs Officer Cesar Vargas. “Thank you to the bill’s bipartisan group of sponsors—Senators Wyden and Blunt and Representatives Kind and Kelly—for fighting to continue the first tax break on brewers and beer importers since the repeal of Prohibition. If passed, this legislation will help us redouble our investments in our industry and the communities where we live and work, and ensure our continued ability to thrive.”
Brewers and importers could use the certainty and permanence of these tax savings to develop new products, upgrade equipment and facilities and hire employees. The law would also enable brewers and importers to be more competitive in the marketplace long-term and encourage the creation of new brewery start-ups by lowering the cost of doing business. Tax relief would have a positive impact on manufacturers and employees across the supply chain, from farmers and bottlers to truckers and distributors.
“This legislation would have a critical impact for a wide range of manufacturers across the United States,” said Randolph L. Burns, Vice President of Global Government Affairs at Ohio-based Owens-Illinois (O-I), the world’s largest glass packaging producer with glass plants in 23 countries. “Businesses like ours are critical to the beer, wine, food and spirits industry, and permanently reducing the cost burden would allow us to strengthen production and support jobs.”
“Small businesses like ours rely on smart policies and reasonable costs to grow and succeed,” said John Little, co-owner and Head Distiller of West Virginia-based Smooth Ambler Spirits. “Making these tax cuts permanent would be an important step towards creating an environment that supports entrepreneurs, encourages ingenuity, and promotes local businesses across the country.”
“Manufacturers are involved in every aspect of the beer, wine and spirits industry in communities across the country, and we know how important it is that these businesses have the opportunity to invest and grow,” said National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram. “Making this tax relief permanent would support workers and employers nationwide and provide certainty for the men and women who make things in America.”
Manufacturers won a victory yesterday as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published new guidance regarding proxy advisory firms, outlining how institutional investors should monitor their use and setting the stage for more effective oversight of the proxy firm business.
Investment advisers and fund managers who oversee Americans’ retirement savings are empowered to have a voice in the policies of the companies in which the fund invests. These fund managers often turn for assistance to proxy firms to recommend votes on company policies. As a result, proxy advisory firms have enormous influence over the corporate governance policies of U.S. public companies, impacting the direction of businesses they have no stake in and the life savings of Main Street investors. Unfortunately, a lack of oversight means proxy advisory firms can operate with undisclosed conflicts of interest and inadequate transparency, implement one-size-fits-all decision-making, and make errors that impose significant costs and damaging policies on manufacturers and workers.
The SEC’s guidance clarifies how investment advisers can utilize these firms, representing a significant step toward vital investor protections. In particular, the guidance outlines the due diligence that fund managers have to undertake when relying on a proxy firm’s services and identifies factors, such as errors, conflicts of interest, and methodological weaknesses, that fund managers should be on the lookout for.
“This decision is a big win for manufacturers across the country,” said Charles Crain, Director of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “With this guidance, the SEC is providing a roadmap for asset managers to protect Main Street investors’ best interests and laying the groundwork for improved oversight of the proxy advisory industry—and a smarter, more informed environment for millions of manufacturers and middle-class Americans.”
The SEC’s guidance echoes specific requests made by the NAM in their March 5 comment letter, in which the organization called for more clarity around “how investment advisers can utilize independent third parties in order to ensure that proxy voting decisions are made in the best interests of the middle-class Americans whose retirement accounts are at stake.”
The NAM has also requested additional rules that would implement direct SEC oversight of proxy advisory firms. The SEC yesterday issued interpretive guidance that its proxy rules do apply to firms providing proxy advice, and manufacturers are optimistic that further reforms will be considered and addressed by the SEC in the coming months.
“This SEC announcement represents critical direction for investment advisers and demonstrates the SEC’s understanding of the fiduciary duty these money managers owe to Americans nationwide,” said Crain. “We’re thankful that yesterday’s guidance provides critical guardrails manufacturers have called for, and we look forward to continuing this conversation to ensure that proxy voting decisions are made in the best interests of Americans saving for a secure retirement.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement on the SEC’s announced guidance on proxy advisory firms:
“The SEC has heeded manufacturers’ call and has taken concrete steps that will help protect the savings of Main Street investors. For too long, investment advisers have relied on unaccountable proxy advisory firms when making decisions about Americans’ retirement investments. Proxy firms often have agendas disconnected from companies’ success or Americans’ financial security, and their reports have been found to contain errors and conflicts of interest. That’s why the NAM urged the SEC to act, and manufacturers are encouraged that the commission has heard our recommendations and is working to implement these initial reforms. We look forward to building on these first steps to achieve even more progress.”
The NAM has been a leading voice in favor of SEC action to ensure proxy advisory firms work in the best interest of manufacturers and manufacturing workers. Over the past two years, the NAM has written several comment letters to the SEC urging reforms to the proxy process, supported legislation passed by the House to increase SEC oversight of proxy advisory firms and launched a six-figure ad campaign in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, including the website ProxyReforms.com, to highlight the issues that companies face in their interactions with proxy firms and provide a feedback portal for businesses to share their stories.
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.38 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.
Hancock Lumber, a 171-year-old lumber company in Casco, Maine, accelerated its plans to grow and invest in its business thanks to tax reform, and its leadership is making sure employees are the first ones to benefit.
“It’s pretty straightforward,” said Hancock Lumber CEO Kevin Hancock. “As a result of tax reform, our cumulative tax rate fell from 38 percent to 28 percent. We’re keeping a dime-on-a-dollar more of our earnings. And we’ve reinvested 100 percent of that back into the business.”
A component of that reinvestment is providing its employees with additional benefits.
“The first priority of the company is, and always has been, the people who work here,” said Hancock. “In the twelve months following tax reform we increased our employees’ wages. We increased our 401k contribution. We increased our annual bonuses, we increased our holiday bonuses, and we picked up 100 percent of the cost of our annual health insurance increases.”
In addition to the immediate benefit to employees, thanks to the strong business climate, the company is planning for continued growth.
“We’ve been able to accelerate our reinvestment plans,” said Hancock. “Tax reform is allowing us to do in three years what might’ve taken us four to five years to do otherwise. That’s pretty significant.”
Because he’s used today’s tax savings to strengthen the company’s position for years to come, Hancock deems this a “significant long-term benefit.”
“Most importantly, this isn’t a one-time boost. Tax reform’s benefits will show up every single year in the future,” said Hancock. “It’s strengthening our future plans as much as our present plans. Simply put, any time a good company is able to keep more of its own money, good things happen.”
“As Congress developed the 2017 tax reform legislation, we made sure the unified voice of manufacturers was heard,” said Chris Netram, Vice President, Tax and Domestic Economic Policy at National Association of Manufacturers. “Now, with the pro-growth tools provided by that legislation, manufacturers across the country are able to invest more, hire more and pay more. Hancock Lumber’s commitment to its people and operations is a great example of what manufacturers small and large across the country are doing: keeping their promise to pay forward the benefits of tax reform.”
Last Wednesday, as yields on shorter-term bonds surpassed those of longer-term bonds, the U.S. economy briefly experienced an “inverted yield curve”. Historically, such an inversion has been a reliable predictor of recessions to come.
Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, explains the significance of the yield curve and whether manufacturers should worry that a recession is on the way.
What is a yield curve?
In its simplest terms, if I lend money to you over several years, I would expect to get receive a higher interest rate to compensate me for giving up access to my money for a longer time frame. In a healthy economy, interest rates should be upward-sloping as the length of maturities increases.
What does it mean if a yield curve inverts?
An inverted yield curve means that the interest rate for short-term loans is higher than for longer maturities. This would imply that financial markets might be more pessimistic in its outlook.
An inverted yield curve can foreshadow a recession. The spread between 10-year and 2-year Treasury bonds is often seen as an important barometer. Since World War II, when this yield curve has inverted, the U.S. economy has entered a recession within the following 12 to 18 months.
The yield curve between 10-year and 2-year Treasury yields inverted last week. It’s positive now, but still close to inversion. The last time this spread inverted was June 2007, predating the start of the Great Recession by five months.
Should manufacturers be worried? Does that mean that a recession is just around the corner?
There are warning signs that we are closely following. Broadly, the global economy is clearly slowing, as noted in our most recent monthly report, and financial markets have been highly volatile in recent weeks, exacerbated by trade uncertainties. As a result, businesses in the U.S. have become more hesitant in their spending and there are worries that the economic slowdown abroad could find its way to the U.S. Within the manufacturing industry, production is contracting both in the U.S. and abroad, and hiring has slowed in the sector.
However, a yield curve inversion does not necessarily mean that a recession is imminent. Yields may be influenced by other factors, and there are positive economic signs too. Consumer spending remains strong, and the labor market remains near 50-year lows. The U.S. economy should also grow 2.3 percent in 2019.
What can policymakers do to avoid an economic downturn?
Central banks around the world are easing monetary policies to stimulate growth, or to provide an “insurance policy” for the economy so economic recovery can be sustained. These trends have pushed 10-year Treasury yields to their lowest levels since October 2016.
Manufacturers remain optimistic about the future, but in order to keep growing, we need to address the workforce crisis and resolve trade uncertainties. Namely, passing the USMCA, reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank and securing a bilateral trade agreement with China are necessary to ensure manufacturers in the U.S. can continue to grow.
The Trump administration wants to allow Americans to import drugs from Canada as part of the President’s larger goal to lower prescription drug prices.
Robyn Boerstling, Vice President of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources at the National Association of Manufacturers, explains the proposal and how drug importation affects manufacturers.
Why is drug importation coming up now?
This has been one of President Trump’s priorities since the 2016 campaign. More broadly, lowering prescription drug prices has been a top priority for manufacturers and policymakers for some time now, as health care costs continue to rise.
However, manufacturers in the U.S. think importing drugs from Canada poses a serious health risk, especially considering the counterfeit challenges we already face.
How does drug importation fit into the larger conversation on health care?
The NAM insists something must be done to address high health care costs. But it shouldn’t just be about the transaction at pharmacy counter. Any solution has to be holistic, addressing the systematic challenges without sacrificing competitiveness and free enterprise in the process.
How does drug importation affect manufacturers?
The biopharmaceutical industry has experienced tremendous growth recently, supporting 1,100 manufacturing plants across the U.S. and Puerto Rico and employing thousands of high-skilled employees. In fact, the biopharmaceutical industry was the top manufacturing sector for job postings in 2018, according to Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insights.
These companies are at the cutting edge of creating the cures of tomorrow, and America’s policies on drug prices should take into consideration both the desire to lower prescription drug prices and the opportunities and benefits provided by this sector. Moreover, other countries don’t guarantee the same standards as drugs made in the U.S—and we should not be looking outside our carefully managed supply chain as a source of our medicines.
Why is drug importation a threat for consumers?
Counterfeit and substandard drugs are a growing problem worldwide. The challenge is most acute in the developing world, impacting about 10 percent of the drug supply according to the World Health Organization. Fortunately, the U.S. has the safest drug distribution system in the world, but importing drugs from Canadian pharmacies would be a direct challenge to that proven model.
Would drug importation work in the United States?
If this plan led by the Trump administration is truly a way to lower costs, we have to ask: Are the savings guaranteed for the patient? The infrastructure that will be necessary to assure safety will be costly. It’s difficult to ignore the question, “Will importation actually reduce prescription drug expenditures?”
It’s worth noting, in 2004 when the Congressional Budget Office looked at this issue, significant long-term savings on prescription drug spending did not materialize, especially in a Canada-only importation scenario.
There is something broken when people have access to but cannot afford the drugs they need. If the United States can build the safest medical supply in the world, we can find ways to be more affordable to the people who need relief the most.