Re-elect Dan Lipinski Congressman

Kadner: A manufacturing strategy that would protect U.S. jobs


Phil Kadner

You say you want congressmen to work together across party lines for the good of the country.

And you say you want job creation.

Well, U.S. Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) and Adam Kinzinger (R-11th) got together to co-sponsor a bill that seems to do all of that.

The measure (HR 5865) is called the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2012. Its goal is to create a 15-member national panel of experts who would formulate strategy to promote “growth, sustainability and competitiveness” for U.S. manufacturing.

Lipinski calls it a “linchpin” to protect the middle-class worker.

The president would appoint five members of the board (the U.S. secretary of commerce, two governors from different political parties, and two other members who have served in the executive branch of government).

Ten members would be appointed from the private sector by Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. They would have to come from the business world (with some specific criteria for businesses with fewer than 100 employees), labor organizations, research and development, academia, finance and the defense industry, among others.

Hearings would be held on such issues as what federal regulations are outdated and should be replaced, what new regulations might be needed to encourage manufacturing growth, what the U.S. needs to do to compete with foreign governments, what new industries deserve government support and what workforce skills need refining.

The board would prepare a report for the president that would contain recommendations and ways of implementing them. It would be published on the Internet for public access.

In a conference call, Lipinski and Kinzinger said their goal is to create and preserve manufacturing jobs and make sure the U.S. has a national strategy to do that. They congratulated each other for putting politics aside for the good of the country and emphasized the need for good-paying jobs for Americans who may not be suited for an executive office.

From what I can tell, the concept has the support of both business and labor.

Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership formed by the country’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers Union, testified in support of the bill.

In fact, a bill sponsored by Lipinski and almost identical in language was so popular it passed the House in 2010 by a 378 to 49 vote. And then went nowhere. The Senate never called the bill for a vote.

On Wednesday, the new measure creating an American manufacturing board passed the House 339 to 77, with nearly equal support among Democrats and Republicans.

Pretty incredible in the current political climate I would say. Yet no one seems to know why the Democratic-controlled Senate isn’t enthusiastic.

Lipinski said the Senate was busy in 2010 with a lot of other stuff and blamed himself for not working closely enough with Senate leaders. This time, he’s working with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and his staff.

That seemed strange to me because U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) is not only a member of Lipinski’s political party but the Senate majority whip. I called Durbin’s office twice, seeking comment about the bill, but am still waiting to hear what the senator’s position is on the measure.

Kinzinger and Lipinski noted that Americans think Democrats and Republicans in Congress don’t even talk to each other these days. They contend that their bill demonstrates that political differences can be put aside for the good of the country.

Kinzinger and Lipinski may be from different political parties, but they are not quite polar opposites.

Lipinski is considered by some to be one of the most conservative Democrats in the House. As for Kinzinger, he’s not a Tea Party conservative but has become a national voice for the right wing of the GOP.

I’m surprised Kinzinger would back a bill that would create a new bureaucracy and possibly promulgate new regulations governing private enterprise.

But he said he believes a national strategy is needed to defend the U.S. from foreign governments who are peeling off American jobs and industrial plants and stealing intellectual property. Kinzinger believes this is a matter of national security.

So do I. A comprehensive manufacturing strategy is as important as having a military plan to protect this country from attack by foreign enemies.

If Durbin or other Senate Democrats have a better idea, I would like to hear it.

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