Which presidential candidate is best poised to preserve America's manufacturing heritage?

April 7, 2008
Lisa Towers asks whether you will make American manufacturing the centerpiece of your how you cast your vote in the 2008 presidential election.

Last month, I wrote about the future of American manufacturing in “Giving it all away,”
(www.plantservices.com/articles/2008/037.html) and our need to take ownership of American manufacturing to preserve its role in making America a great nation. Now I’m posing the question to you: Which presidential candidate is best poised to preserve this vital industry for the next four years?

This year’s election is a historic contest for more reasons than who is running, but for the power to make policy decisions that will affect our country for decades into the future. Yes, there is the opportunity to elect our first female president, first black president or first Vietnam War POW as our commander in chief, but I encourage you to look beyond these exteriors and vote on the issues that are most important to you. Who will you choose? And how will you choose? If your main concern is the economy, as it is for many Americans, the key is to distill the truth out of each candidate’s fiscal propositions to see which one matches your ideology.

Hillary Clinton has made recent headlines with her plan to keep jobs in the United States. During a presidential primary campaign stop in Pennsylvania, she said she would offer new tax benefits for research and job development, and devote $7 billion a year in tax incentives to keep jobs here. She would create what she refers to as “innovation and research clusters” and would provide $500 million annually in investments to encourage the creation of high-wage jobs in clean energy. She also announced support for a plan to create 3 million new jobs to rebuild the U.S. infrastructure.

On her Web site, www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/middleclass/, she says, “The manufacturing base can be re-energized through creative partnerships.” She also champions the middle-class tax cut and supports unions. She promises to “restore the basic bargain that if Americans work hard and take responsibility, government will do its part to make sure they have the tools to get ahead.”

Of course, only one Democratic candidate will be left standing after the Democratic National Convention in August. In a tough and close race between Clinton and Barack Obama, his approach to the economy includes creating jobs by using $60 billion he says would be saved by ending the Iraq war. Obama espouses tax cuts for the middle class and vows to fight for fair trade. He also plans to amend the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because he believes that “NAFTA and its potential were oversold to the American people.” He says he will work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to fix NAFTA so it works for American workers.
Obama also pledges to improve job transition assistance to “help all workers adapt to a rapidly changing economy.” He would update the existing system of Trade Adjustment Assistance by extending it to service industries, creating flexible education accounts to help workers retrain, and providing retraining assistance for workers in sectors of the economy vulnerable to dislocation before they lose their jobs.

He also says he will invest in U.S. manufacturing via the Obama comprehensive energy independence and climate change plan, which will “invest in America’s highly skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the first wave of green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world.” He adds that he will provide assistance to the domestic auto industry to ensure that new fuel-efficient vehicles are built by American workers. You can read more about his propositions at www.barackobama.com/issues/economy/#tax-relief.

Meanwhile, John McCain, the Republican nominee, has embarked upon a “Service to America” tour, and his economic plan details numerous tax cuts, along with making it harder to raise taxes in the future (www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/0b8e4db8-5b0c-459f-97ea-d7b542a78235.htm).

He’s on board with lowering barriers to trade and believes that “globalization is an opportunity for American workers today and in the future. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers lie outside our borders and we need to be at the table when the rules for access to those markets are written. To do so, the U.S. should engage in multilateral, regional and bilateral efforts to reduce barriers to trade, level the global playing field and build effective enforcement of global trading rules.”

However, he says he understands that globalization will not automatically benefit every American, and that education is the key. “We must prepare the next generation of workers by making American education worthy of the promise we make to our children and ourselves,” he says. “We must be a nation committed to competitiveness and opportunity. We must fight for the ability of all students to have access to any school of demonstrated excellence.”

In addition, he pledges to overhaul unemployment insurance and make it a program for retraining, relocating and assisting workers who have lost their jobs. He believes that we can “strengthen community colleges and technical training, and give displaced workers more choices to find their way back to productive and prosperous lives.”

I am still undecided about the candidates, and will keep an open mind in the months leading up to the election. But one principle I will not waver on is voting for the candidate who will provide the most support for American manufacturing. Are you with me?

E-mail Managing Editor Lisa Towers at [email protected].

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