Manufacturing Gets a Boost From Lipinski, Kirk Measure
Crain's Chicago Business
It won't hurt any, and, if anyone listens, it actually might help a bit.
That's my reaction to a little-noticed clause included in the recent omnibus federal budget bill that requires the president to roll out a national plan to boost manufacturing every four years.
Sponsored by the bipartisan duo of Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Chicago, and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., the measure specifically directs each president in the second year of his or her term to present a National Strategic Plan for Manufacturing to promote factory jobs, an issue of particular importance to Illinois and other Midwestern states.
The plan would have to touch on everything from the impact of federal environmental rules to trade policies and workforce regulations.
And while there's no guarantee of action, "The goal is to get Washington to focus on this," Lipinski told me. "This bipartisan bill guarantees that Washington has to pay attention to what can be done."
Kirk noted in a statement that manufacturing still accounts for 1 in 10 jobs in Illinois, with workers in that sector making an average $29,000 more a year than others. "Manufacturing is the beating heart of our state's economy."
Greg Baise, CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, said he'd prefer that Washington weigh the impact every time it does things such as toughen anti-ozone laws or make it easier for unions to organize. But the group "is always pleased when the federal government recognizes the impact of manufacturing."
For what it's worth, according to Lipinski, it took three years of effort to get the measure approved. First the White House objected—"They didn't want anyone telling them what to do," he said—and then conservative Senate Republicans blocked action.
The measure is based on a similar product the Pentagon releases every four years in reviewing the nation's defense policy.
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