As chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), has been a strong and consistent advocate for the middle class and working families.
Often described as "Congress's leading proponent of American manufacturing," he has been steadfastly working with the Obama administration on the creation of a national manufacturing policy.
Over the past year, Brown held a series of Subcommittee on Economic Policy hearings examining ways to rebuild U.S. manufacturing and is also fighting to ensure that our nation's trade laws work for domestic manufacturing and American workers.
Kathleen Wells: Later this month or early in February, it is expected that the Senate will take up a jobs bill (Jobs for Main Street Act). How can Americans be certain that this bill will actually create jobs --actually put Americans back to work?
Senator Sherrod Brown: First of all, without
the first Recovery Act, we would have been in a much worse economic position
than we are in now. It clearly created jobs. Even though we were losing
that number of jobs, it obviously created jobs in terms of direct spending on
infrastructure. It created jobs by putting tens of billions of dollars in
state and local governments so that they didn't lay off teachers, firefighters,
and mental health counselors, etc. -- all the kinds of things that state and
local governments funded.
This jobs bill needs to do more direct infrastructure spending. We are facing a huge infrastructure deficit to pass on to our children. Water, sewer, highways, bridges, universities, broadband -- all the things that we have not funded as well as what we should have, and have not built infrastructure well enough, is a huge problem for our children and grandchildren if we don't do it right now.
Second, this bill needs to make sure that it's got a manufacturing policy, so that we are moving forward in building wind turbines, solar panels, and other kinds of alternative energy manufacturing that this nation absolutely needs to do.
Kathleen Wells: I know you are focused and have drafted legislation, The Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology Act (IMPACT), regarding a national manufacturing policy. Will this legislation be added as an amendment to the jobs bill? And speak to me about the necessity for a national policy regarding manufacturing.
Senator Brown: A component of having a manufacturing policy is helping companies transition from the auto supply chain or other kinds of manufacturing into alternative energy.
If you make glass for trucks, you can make glass for solar panels. If you build gears for cars, you can make gear boxes for wind turbines. We need to assist companies into doing that -- that's part of the manufacturing policy.
That legislation [IMPACT] has been introduced (I introduced it) and in total amended into the House version of the climate change bill. We are working with the White House and others to make sure that -- whether standing alone, part of the jobs bill, or part of the climate change bill -- this idea gets written into law.
Other parts of what should be a manufacturing policy are assisting companies with credit. So many small companies can't get credit. They have the capacity to produce they have customers (more and more) but they are not getting financing.
Another part of the manufacturing policy should be the [Hollings] Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). This is a relatively small government program that helps individual companies deal with cutting their energy costs and helping them export. All the things small companies don't have the resources to do/hire will get help from the federal government [this] way.
Also, we need a very different-looking trade policy than the one we have now, including dealing with China currency. [China] is gaming the system, i.e., manipulating currency values to gain advantage with manufacturing exports.
And we need assistance for small businesses. We need to help the Small Business Administration by waiving some of the fees so that small businesses can grow and small businesses can get start-ups -- i.e., start-ups can come forward by getting some low interest loans from the federal government through the Small Business Administration.
Kathleen Wells: Be more specific about how a national manufacturing policy will defend against unfair trade?