Today, the Infrastructure Working Group—a coalition of national organizations led by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Associated General Contractors—sent a letter to the Senate urging passage of a long-term, robustly-funded surface transportation reauthorization bill ahead of the Sept. 30, 2020 deadline. NAM Director of Infrastructure Catie Kawchak breaks down manufacturers’ immediate need for infrastructure modernization.
What’s the scope of the infrastructure challenge?
NAM data reveals that underinvestment in U.S. infrastructure worsens by the year, and infrastructure investment is only one-third of what it was in 1960. As a result, more than 54,000 bridges across the United States are rated “structurally deficient,” and a majority of our roadway are in less than good condition. Ports and waterways are in disrepair, airports and runways are clogged and congested. But it’s not just transportation infrastructure that needs an upgrade to accommodate a 21st-century manufacturing economy. We need improvements to our water, energy and digital infrastructure as well. It’s unacceptable that America’s infrastructure continues to receive a D+ grade. Now is the time to deliver transformational advancements to the infrastructure that connects our communities and facilitates free enterprise.
How does this challenge affect manufacturers?
Right now, America’s transportation infrastructure doesn’t support our vision for an exceptional America. Manufacturers use roads, bridges, rails, waterways, ports and airports every day—and if shipments are delayed by highway congestion or an unsafe bridge, then the entire production process can be delayed. Modern, just-in-time manufacturing must be incredibly precise to maximize productivity, but without reliable infrastructure, it’s impossible to do that cutting-edge work.
What is the NAM’s solution?
The NAM’s “Building to Win” blueprint offers a comprehensive plan to modernize the infrastructure that makes the American Dream possible. It provides solutions to support workers in the United States, jump-start economic growth, spur job creation, and enhance quality of life by improving and expanding our transportation, energy, water and digital infrastructure so that we can pave the way for the success of new generations. It even lays out a path for Congress to fund these investments.
In just one year, Congress faces a deadline to pass a surface transportation bill. Without this legislation, highway, bridge and transit projects will slow construction timelines and become even more costly. That’s why about 150 members of the Infrastructure Working Group applauded the Senate’s initial work on reauthorization and implored them to finish the legislative process on time. September 2020 may sound like a long time, but passing a surface transportation bill has historically taken longer than a year.
What is the Infrastructure Working Group?
Led by the NAM and AGC, the group demonstrates the breadth of the industries impacted by America’s deteriorating infrastructure. It includes manufacturers, labor, construction, technology, finance, agriculture, retailers, emergency responders and local and state government, among others. There’s broad agreement about the need for effective, efficient infrastructure. We’re standing together to push for action, and now Congress needs to pass infrastructure legislation on time.
This week, the Trump administration successfully negotiated changes to the Universal Postal Union (UPU) that will protect manufacturers from counterfeiters and other bad actors who have been exploiting the international system. The improvements were agreed upon at a special UPU conference in Geneva after two days of negotiations.
The UPU is an agency of the United Nations that coordinates the worldwide postal system and postal policies among member nations. In recent years, Chinese counterfeiters have exploited the system, which allowed them to ship packages to the United States at highly subsidized rates.
The Trump administration gave notice in October of last year that the United States would pull out of the UPU unless the body implemented significant structural reforms to the “terminal dues” system under which postal operators exchange mail, arguing that some countries’ postal carriers are not paying enough to have their shipments delivered to recipients in the United States.
Some countries in the UPU, such as China, pay lower rates because they were classified as “developing countries” when the terms of the UPU were originally agreed to. The terminal dues system and classifications have not changed in decades, while some of those countries have grown into major global economies.
Under the negotiated changes, countries with high-volume imports of mail and packages will be able to impose “self-declared rates” for distributing foreign mail. The agreement goes into effect in January 2021, but the United States may immediately begin to set payment rates that cover the true cost of carrying inbound international mail. In addition, UPU countries won a significant increase in the rates they can charge inbound mail from China as a way of reducing the total global subsidy China receives under the prior framework.
“With the changes negotiated this week, the U.S. can feel comfortable continuing its membership in the UPU and fighting for further reforms from inside the system while at the same time protecting manufacturers from counterfeiters overseas,” NAM Vice President of Labor, Legal and Regulatory Policy Patrick Hedren said. “These changes level the playing field for manufacturers against counterfeiting and other unfair trading practices. The administration gave manufacturers a true seat at the table, and we look forward to working with them and our international partners to continue promoting a fair and open trading economy.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement on the Trump administration’s successful negotiations to improve the Universal Postal Union:
Manufacturers are cheering today because we now have a stronger Universal Postal Union framework that will help protect manufacturers from counterfeiters and other bad actors operating in countries like China, which have been exploiting a dangerous and unfair system. The Trump administration gave manufacturers a seat at the table and listened to our needs throughout this collaborative process, and the United States worked with our allies abroad to bring broadly supported reforms to an antiquated agreement. This is an important action to level the playing field against unfair trading practices, and the NAM will continue to work with the administration and our international partners to promote a more open and fair trading economy.
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.
The United States has a long history of medical and pharmaceutical innovation. Yet, some policymakers have suggested imposing top-down regulations or pricing rules to reduce drug prices that would put this innovation at risk.
National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy Robyn Boerstling explains drug price controls and how they could impact everyday Americans.
What’s the problem with price controls?
Everyone agrees with the goal of reducing the costs of health care—and prescriptions in particular. The question is how to get there. One way we know will not work is via government-imposed price controls or other arbitrary measures. Non-market-based approaches like this are antithetical to the free enterprise system that forms the bedrock of our economy and way of life. Once we allow the government to run negotiations on our medicines, the government will have an even stronger incentive to run our health care—and that is exactly what many who support price controls like this would like to see.
Why is this important now?
We are in a period of tremendous breakthroughs and medical discovery, led by pharmaceutical manufacturers in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, universities and other private groups. Pharmaceutical manufacturers spend more on research and development than any other industry, creating new treatments and cures that have the potential to save and improve millions of lives. In addition to funding R&D up front, pharmaceutical manufacturers also put a sizeable share of their revenue back into R&D so that today’s treatments can help fund tomorrow’s cures. Imposing arbitrary price controls will threaten those investments and undermine a system that is working to save millions of vulnerable people.
How should Congress approach high drug prices?
There’s no doubt that health care costs have been rising too quickly for far too long for American families. Those costs have contributed to wage stagnation for workers and discouraged other investments in the workplace. But we need to address inefficiency, affordability, improved outcomes and flexibility to drive down health care costs without abandoning market-based approaches. Any solutions should be guided by the four pillars that have made America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.
That will require a comprehensive approach to the various forces that strain the system, recognizing the importance of innovation as a tool to reduce costs and improve health outcomes. Congress should support patient access to lifesaving medicines—and the American manufacturers and researchers that deliver them—instead of upending American health care in favor of an uncertain future.
As the importance of international trade continues to rise, the National Association of Manufacturers has elevated its efforts to tackle global regulatory issues that impact manufacturers through its leadership in the Engaging America’s Global Leadership (EAGL) coalition.
EAGL represents a group of U.S. industries that believe in the importance of effective American leadership within multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Health Organization.
As the U.N. General Assembly opens, the NAM’s Director of International Business Policy Ryan Ong explains EAGL’s work and importance for manufacturers.
Why are the actions of these multilateral organizations important?
They play critical roles in promoting a more stable, predictable world and tackling important global issues such as international health, development and environmental sustainability. At their best, these organizations bring together government leaders, businesses, civil society, academic experts and other key stakeholders in transparent, inclusive conversations that drive effective policies and partnerships to solve global problems.
How do these international organizations relate to the needs of American manufacturers?
These organizations can directly impact policy decisions made by national governments. Resolutions and reports from these groups shape national debates and regulations, influencing U.S. exports, jobs, and manufacturing competitiveness. This makes it critical for these organizations and their activities to be accountable to member states and inclusive of the private sector and to reflect good regulatory practices and evidence-based approaches.
What areas is EAGL most interested in?
EAGL and its members focus on initiatives that impact manufacturers at international organizations. Examples include efforts to levy new tax and operational restrictions on manufacturers, impose bans or burdensome regulatory restrictions on manufactured products, and limit the ability of manufacturers to protect critical intellectual property.
EAGL is also a strong advocate for inclusive approaches at international organizations that embrace the private sector as an indispensable partner in policies and programs to achieve global goals.
How does EAGL aim to represent manufacturers’ views at international organizations?
The coalition works with a growing network of public and private stakeholders to promote effective member state leadership through stronger coordination within and between a growing set of international business and third-party allies and direct engagement with U.S. and foreign governments in national capitals, Geneva, New York and elsewhere.
The U.N. General Assembly starts tomorrow. What should manufacturers pay attention to during this meeting?
This year’s U.N. General Assembly includes a range of events that could have an important impact on manufacturers in different sectors by shaping national regulations around the world, thus impacting their ability to export and operate in critical markets needed to compete, grow and hire.
These include a high-level universal health coverage meeting and a related political declaration that could drive manufacturing-relevant national policies on areas such as innovation, taxation and regulatory restrictions. Other events include a Climate Action Summit, high-level forums on sustainable development and development financing, as well as a wide range of side events hosted by business and civil society groups.
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.”