Time for National Strategy to Create Jobs: Lipinski
July 8, 2011
By Phil Kadner
This country keeps losing manufacturing jobs overseas and our government doesn’t seem to care.
At least that’s my impression and the opinion of ordinary people who tell me they’re concerned about the future of the nation.
That’s why a five-point plan to get Americans back to work, released this week by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) got my attention.
“The loss of one-third of all American manufacturing jobs over the last decade has taken a terrible toll on the middle class,” Lipinski stated.
Among other things, he has introduced a bill called the National Manufacturing Strategy Act (HR 1366) in Congress.
The concept is simple. Create a government panel to produce a strategy for creating good-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector.
The broad-based national strategy board would consist of government officials and businessmen from the private sector as well as elected officials from both parties.
It would conduct a comprehensive analysis of the manufacturing sector and develop a strategy, including specific goals and recommendations.
Lipinski actually introduced the same measure last year and it passed the House 379 to 38, but he couldn’t even find a sponsor in the Senate.
“I don’t know why we couldn’t find a champion for the bill in the Senate,” Lipinski told me during a phone call from Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
“But for some reason, people in Congress just don’t get it,” Lipinski said.
“Some in Washington, especially many Republicans, but too many Democrats as well, seem to think a job is a job, whether that’s working at a McDonald’s or making airplanes.
“Maybe it’s because I grew up on the Southwest Side near Bedford Park, where there were a lot of these jobs, but I understand the importance of manufacturing.
“If we are going to be a viable country in the future, with a strong middle class, we need manufacturing.”
Lipinski said that while many experts believe the U.S. simply can’t compete with emerging nations when it comes to labor costs, he thinks the United States has an inherent advantage.
“We have an edge in efficiency that China and other nations with low labor costs can’t duplicate,” Lipinski said.
He pointed to Germany as an example of an industrialized nation that continues to have a strong manufacturing base.
“I’ve seen studies that show German workers make as much as $12 an hour more than U.S. workers when benefits are included, yet they have a trade surplus, not a trade deficit.”
Lipinski said Germany has a lower unemployment rate than the U.S. and a national strategy for competing with developing nations for manufacturing jobs.
Lipinski said he’s seen polling data that indicate 80 percent of the American public believe the government should have a manufacturing strategy.
“It’s not only good policy but good politics,” Lipinski said.
The government has dozens of agencies, with thousands of employees, involved with manufacturing, but they are not pursuing any unified policy. And there seems to be no comprehensive strategy for competing with emerging nations.
Republicans, according to Lipinski, fear that a new government agency would interfere with the private sector’s decision-making process.
Well, how’s that process been working for you lately?
I told Lipinski that from the people I’ve talked to in grocery stores, doughnut shops, on the phone and via email, there’s a growing sense of frustration that the government is failing to address the biggest issue facing the country ... jobs, jobs, jobs.
“Many members of Congress are more concerned about helping multinational corporations expand overseas than they are about creating jobs in this country,” Lipinski said.
“Every year I’ve been here I think it can’t get worse and it does,” Lipinski continued, adding that “there’s a lack of common sense up here.”
Lipinski’s five-point plan also would level the playing field with China by enforcing existing fair trade laws and combat what he calls China’s currency manipulation.
“They devalue their currency so that their products cost less in the United States and U.S. products cost more in China,” Lipinski said.
He would also invest in transportation, establish more effective worker-training programs and place a greater priority on research and development.
“We don’t need to focus on returning to the smokestack industries of the past, but things like nanotechnology, which has a lot of potential for future growth,” Lipinski said.
I would just like to see our government leaders demonstrate a sense of urgency about replacing the jobs that have been lost.
We’re in an economic war with foreign nations. And instead of putting up a fight, we’ve run up the white flag.
Contribute Volunteer Lawn Sign Get Updates