Who Do You Think is the Manufacturing Candidate?
By Sarah A. Webster
Editor in Chief
Research suggests that you’ve probably already made up your mind about who you’re voting for in the U.S. presidential election.
So any debate about whether President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney deserves the mantle as the manufacturing candidate may be moot to you. But, based on all the speeches from factory floors, it’s clear they are still fighting for the trophy.
ME does not endorse particular candidates. But in case you haven’t made up your mind, or just wanted to know more on their manufacturing positions, I’m here to guide you to the highlights.
First, a disclosure. Two of SME’s board members work in the Obama Administration: Michael F. Molnar, Chief Manufacturing Officer for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Thomas R. Kurfess, a professor at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, who is currently working for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
That said, Obama and Romney each have their strengths and weaknesses.
The Associated Press did an analysis of the candidates’ manufacturing positions that is worth reading, and the Alliance for American Manufacturing also has been keeping a running tab on things Obama and Romney have said on the topic.
Obama started the year with a State of the Union speech in which he vowed to support “an economy built on American manufacturing” and inspired a new round of debate on the topic. His campaign Web site further boasts about how he saved the auto industry, created the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and oversaw an economy that has added more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010. He has also proposed several tax benefits for manufacturers to encourage investment and insourcing:
- allowing them to expense 100% of their investment in plants and equipment,
- doubling the current 9% tax deduction for domestic advanced manufacturing technologies to 18%
- allowing a 20% income tax credit on expenses companies incur for insourcing operations back to the United States.
But Romney has laid out a vision for manufacturers, too. His official “Believe in America” plan vows to improve the economy, a move that would lift all manufacturers. Romney said he would eliminate Obama-era regulations that he believes burden the economy or job creation, reverse presidential orders that “tilt the playing field in favor of organized labor,” take on China for its currency manipulation, execute new free trade agreements and cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.
Romney believes that the long-term decline in manufacturing jobs and exports are largely the result of unions and over-regulation. His point on over-regulation is backed up by a recent report commissioned by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, which says regulations on U.S. manufacturing may reduce output by as much as $500 billion this year.
No matter what choice voters make this fall, here’s hoping that manufacturing continues to grow and prosper!
Contact Sarah A. Webster at firstname.lastname@example.org