OPINION: Rep. Lee Terry in U.S. News and World Report "Bring Back ‘Made in America’"

February 22, 2013

February 22, 2013

Bring Back ‘Made in America’

By Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade 

Last summer, millions of Americans were outraged when they discovered the new uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team were made in China. In our global marketplace, it's not unusual to see products sourced from around the world, just as our products are used by the citizens of other countries.

But there was something unique about the Olympics—they kindle our national pride, and the thought of Team U.S.A. wearing made-in-China uniforms left lots of people wondering: wasn't textile manufacturing one of our traditional strengths? Had we just not looked to find American producers, or was there nothing to see?

The problem was addressed when the Olympic committee issued a statement saying it will change its policy to ensure all future U.S. Olympic uniforms will be made in the United States. But this incident reminds us that we can't be complacent about our standing as the greatest manufacturing nation on earth. The United States is still the world's largest manufacturing economy, producing over 18 percent of global manufactured products. Manufacturing supports approximately 17 million jobs in this country, accounting for about one out of every six private sector jobs. From the 3M plant in Valley, Neb. to the auto parts suppliers in southwest Michigan, manufacturing is still powering local economies in the heartland of America. In my district alone, manufacturing is responsible for nearly 40,000 jobs.

But this vital economic sector was hit hard during the Great Recession and it still struggles to revive. Current U.S. polices are making it harder to make things in America. New layers of red tape and costly tax burdens are forcing jobs overseas and crippling America's global competitiveness. Onerous taxes and regulations make it 20 percent more expensive to manufacture in the United States than in the territory of our largest trading partners.

To help maintain our global leadership position and bring manufacturing jobs back to America, the United States needs a new winning strategy for manufacturing. This includes a more competitive tax code, a trained manufacturing workforce, and favorable trade policies that open global markets and cut down trade barriers. We must also move forward with a true all-of-the-above energy approach that encourages domestic production and shuns harmful regulations that drive up energy costs. Simply put, we need to make it easier to make things in America.

Manufacturing creates high paying jobs, drives technological innovation, strengthens our national security, and generates more economic activity than any other sector. A strong America depends on a healthy manufacturing economy. This is why both Republicans and Democrats have made revitalizing American manufacturing top policy priority. In his State of the Union address, President Obama stressed the need to bring good manufacturing jobs back to America, stating, "Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing."

As the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, I am committed to working toward bipartisan solutions to help improve the manufacturing climate here in the United States so we can grow our economy, attract more investment, and create more American jobs.

"Made in America" should be a shared pride for all Americans. This nation was built upon the foundation of hard work, determination, and innovation. We are a nation of builders; we must do everything we can to unleash America's potential and let American manufacturers succeed.

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