Manufacturing is the Key08/05/2010
For generations, manufacturing has been the heart and soul of the American economy and our middle class, as well as a critical contributor to U.S. national security. In the Third District, small- and medium-sized factories — many of them family owned — remain an essential source of good jobs. Lapham-Hickey Steel in Chicago, Archer Wire in Bedford Park, Meyer Tool & Manufacturing in Oak Lawn, Weldbend in Argo, Norman Filter in Bridgeview — these are just a few of the many innovative firms that have long been pillars of the local economy and community.
Yet anyone who lives in our area knows that American manufacturing has suffered significant losses in recent decades. In the 1970s, I played Clear Ridge Little League Baseball at Aircraft Gear Field on 65th Street in Chicago. That company is long gone, along with many other manufacturers in the Clearing Industrial District and all over our area.
This is not just a local issue. In the past decade, almost one-third of domestic manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Since 2007, America's manufacturing crisis has deepened with the loss of 2.1 million jobs. Unfortunately, many in Washington turned a blind eye to these devastating losses.
I have always made it a point to fight for American manufacturing. Today, I am working to make sure that the "Made in U.S.A." label once again becomes a fixture on shelves and in showrooms across the country and around the world, and that America can defend itself without relying on foreign manufacturers. A thriving manufacturing sector that includes companies like Northstar Aerospace in Bedford Park is indispensible for producing the weapons and systems needed to keep our country safe.
To end the outsourcing of American jobs, our government must stop entering into trade agreements that leave U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage. We must fight back against China's currency manipulation and other unfair trade policies. While determined to continue to fight on these issues, I am also forging ahead with my effort to develop a national plan for revitalizing American manufacturing that can earn widespread, bipartisan support. To that end, I introduced the National Manufacturing Strategy Act, H.R. 4692, in February.
This bill is a powerful tool for producing concrete action to help American manufacturers create jobs. It requires the president to establish a Manufacturing Strategy Board of federal officials, two state governors from different parties, and private-sector manufacturing leaders. Every four years, the board will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the manufacturing sector covering everything from trade issues to financing to the defense industrial base. Based on this analysis and public input, it will then develop a strategy that includes short- and long-term goals for manufacturing and specific recommendations on how to achieve them. To make sure we stay the course, the board will assess the implementation of the strategy's recommendations annually and the Government Accountability Office will conduct a separate review.
The good news is that Washington may finally be starting to wake up: Last week the National Manufacturing Strategy Act passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 379 to 38. The bill was also introduced in the Senate, and I will continue to fight to see it signed into law.
Some claim there is nothing that can be done to halt the exodus of American jobs. They are wrong. American innovation and entrepreneurialism remain unmatched. I have no doubt that America has what it takes to remain a world leader in everything from aerospace to automobiles. Not only can we do this, but we must. The health of the American middle class and our national security depend on it.