This post is the second in a series on looking at sustainable jobs creation in the US. It is based on contributions we have made to Surplus Record, an industrial publication and catalog. Please click here for Part 1 in this series.
To support the future of manufacturing for generations to come in the US, it will be critical to reverse the trend of the US looking more like Europe around environmental policy and restrictions. Arguably, the most dangerous threat to manufacturing in the US is neither the country's Executive Branch (i.e., the president) or the legislature (Senate and House of Representatives), but rather what we once heard described as the fourth, all powerful, branch of government: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Simpsons Movie does a great job positioning the EPA for what it would like to behave as: a sixth branch of the military.
Yet given the EPA's role in circumventing legislation and policing emissions on its own of late -- which is preventing or postponing large manufacturers and energy producers from building new facilities -- it has effectively served in the role of a green paramilitary force outside the control or oversight of any of the other branches of government. It is our view that our elected leaders would do well to disarm the EPA and its ability to act unilaterally, especially in broad-based cases (e.g., C02) where EPA actions can seriously hurt or delay manufacturing jobs creation. Moreover, the next President would be well advised to consider all the pieces on the global chessboard (e.g., China) when it comes to pipeline and energy policy, rather than acting out of partisan spite alone.
As important as jobs creation and is the reduction of both the trade and budget deficits. The former is more complicated, but the next president will need to address both, immediately upon taking office. From a trade deficit perspective, we strongly encourage our next Presidential administration to become more aggressive behind the scenes in fighting the covert trade war with China. The budget deficit is more delicate, especially considering the balancing act between not wanting to inflate the dollar relative to the Euro too quickly as the common European currency continues to decline (because of the negative impact on the buying of US exports, abroad, within the EU). In part, the budget deficit is contributing to holding the dollar lower than it should be (relatively speaking), which is both good and bad in the current climate. Without it, we could face a Yen-like situation, making US exports more expensive.
Ultimately, US jobs policy ought to be the procurement and supply chain issue voters should be most concerned with this election cycle. In the primaries and in the general election, we owe it to ourselves to demand of our candidates the same type of analytical rigor and long view that we theoretically should be giving to our own global sourcing and supply chain analyses.