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'Revitalize Manufacturing and Invest in the
Jobs of the Future,' Says Kerry

ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 28, 2004 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is a text of remarks as prepared for delivery by John Kerry, regarding manufacturing jobs of the future:
Washtenaw Community College
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Wednesday, April 28 2004


Thank you for that kind introduction, I want to thank President Whitworth and the faculty, staff, and students at Washtenaw Community College for inviting me here today.

I know how rigorous the curriculum is here but, frankly, it seems to me that if you can say "Washtenaw" three times in a row, you should automatically get your degree.

Over the last six weeks, in a series of speeches, I've out laid my "Jobs First" economic strategy my vision for building a stronger economy and a stronger America. In the first speech, I talked about one the major challenges our country is facing the jobs deficit and the wage recession. I introduced my plan to get America going again by creating ten million jobs in my first term as president. In my second speech at Georgetown University, I addressed the second major challenge America is grappling with: a runaway budget deficit that's threatening to weaken our economy and keep us from investing in our most important priorities health care and education. I called that day for a fundamental change in the way we do business in Washington cutting the deficit, responsibly paying for our priorities, and keeping government spending in check.

I'm here this morning to talk about the third pillar of my "Jobs First" strategy creating manufacturing jobs of the future.

But let me be clear: this is far from my last word on the economy. I'll be talking about creating jobs each and every day of this campaign, in every state I visit across America. Because we can't build a stronger America unless we build a strong economy.

Now there's a reason I came here today to talk about manufacturing jobs. For one thing, these are jobs many of you at Washtenaw are training for. But beyond that, since the turn of last century, and the invention of the mass-produced automobile, Michigan has been an industrial giant literally paving the way for America's leadership in manufacturing around the world. Not just in producing cars but in everything that goes into them: in steel, in rubber, in electronics, just to name a few.

Detroit didn't earn the distinction "motor city" by accident. Back in 1903, when others saw cars as luxury items for the wealthy, Henry Ford understood that the key to real manufacturing growth was the efficient, mass production of affordable vehicles for the middle class. Success for Ford didn't come over night. He spent years toiling on different models. But in 1908, the Ford Motor Company struck gold with the Model T and the rest is history.

Now, as you know, manufacturing here in Michigan and all across America isn't what it once was, thanks in no small part to run- away health care costs, increased outsourcing, and unfair trade practices. And hundreds of thousands of workers have paid the price.

In the last four years, America has lost 2.8 million manufacturing jobs the largest decline in manufacturing in more than eighty years. In fact, we haven't seen a single month where manufacturing has gained jobs, the longest stretch since the Great Depression. That's one out of every six manufacturing jobs in America, including 136,000 here Michigan. We have an administration that doesn't even recognize that this is a problem.

To give you an example, in just the last few years, GM, Ford, and Chrysler have closed down dozens of plants in this state and scores of other companies that have nailed their doors shut.

Factories like the Fox River Paper Plant in Kalamazoo that shut down its assembly line last December after thirty one years in business. Fox River was a place like so many in the heartland that built our country, our economy, and our middle class. People there worked hard. They took pride in what they produced and were able to provide and build a future for their families.

But it's not just losing the jobs themselves that's been a problem it's the ripple effect it's had on the workers, their families, and on our entire economy. When plants shut down, like the ones here in Michigan, people have nowhere to turn. They lose their health care. They lose their pension funds, their saving accounts, their college nest egg. And, of course, they lose their pay checks. And these are often good-paying jobs. In fact, most manufacturing jobs pay fifty percent more than other jobs. In 2002, on average, manufacturing jobs paid $55,000, compared to $35,000 for other private sector jobs.

For most, a job is more than a way to make a living it's a way of life. It's the dignity of knowing you can support your family. It's the sense of being a productive member of society. Losing your job can feel like looking down a dark tunnel with no light at the other end.

And what most people don't realize is that the loss of a manufacturing job goes far beyond the individual worker. There's a domino effect. The massive plant closings and layoffs have directly contributed to a fiscal crisis affecting every single state in the nation. Each manufacturing job supports more than four other jobs in the economy nearly three times the rate in the business and service sectors. And each dollar spent on manufacturing results in an additional $1.43 in spending on other products and services.

To put it another way, think about what goes into building the typical American car and just how many jobs it supports. There's 1,700 pounds of steel, 611 pounds of iron and aluminum, 253 pounds of plastics and rubber, and nearly 50 microprocessors not to mention paint, glass, and upholstery. Then there are all the things we can't measure all the goods and services that go into supporting these jobs. The waiter and barbers the doctors and nurses the truck drivers and construction workers.

It's not hard to understand why the ripple effects across the economy have been so devastating. But there's no reason we can't turn it around.

I'm here this morning because I believe manufacturing should not and must not be a ghost of America past. I'm here because I believe a setback is just that a setback. Not a reason to abandon ship. As Henry Ford liked to say, "Don't find a fault. Find a remedy."

So, here's my remedy: The only way to build a stronger America is to build a thriving manufacturing sector with good, solid manufacturing jobs of the future. Jobs that will, once again, be the backbone of the American economy. It's about producing existing products better, cheaper, and faster and seizing on America's high-skilled workers and cutting-edge research to develop new ones.

Now, you will hear some people say that America's industrial future is in Silicon Valley not in middle America. That the Rust Belt is the old way of doing business. Well, those folks should come over and spend some time where I have this week -- in Michigan, in Ohio, in West Virginia. It's simply a false choice to think that new-age technology and new-age manufacturing can't go hand-in-hand. We're already doing it.

The bottom line: I believe that the best days of the Rust Belt aren't behind us they're ahead of us. We just need to harness the skills, energy, and forward-thinking in this room and on factory floors all across America. And we need to give our companies and our workers the tools they need to succeed.

These manufacturing jobs aren't pie-in-the-sky ideas, way off in the horizon. They involve products that are already in the shop room.

Take, for example, automobiles. Right now, American automakers are using existing factories to build new hybrid cars that run on both gas and electricity. When the car's going under 30, it's running on battery. Over thirty, it runs on gas. And when it's stopped at a light, the engine is actually recharging the battery so you never have to plug it in.

Not far from here, new high tech factories are building renewable energy systems, like solar panels and wind turbines that actually harness the wind to create things like electricity that can run a steel mill and light up an office building or an entire town. These sophisticated machines aren't small potatoes they have a wing span of a 727 airplane. So, as you can imagine, building them requires a lot of steel and skilled labor.

Then there are all the factories that are utilizing America's high-skilled workforce and advanced technology to build existing products that much better. Things like high-grade steel, highly- insulated glass, and advanced plastics like the ones used for medical equipment the doors of Saturn cars.

Now, these aren't your grandfathers manufacturing jobs or, for that matter, your father's. They're products built by high- tech machinery, run by high-tech computers and they require high-skilled labor. Skills like machine tool robotics and advanced welding that they teach right here. We may call these manufacturing jobs of the future, but they're employing people right here and right now in Michigan.
But these jobs are just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, the reality is that most companies, especially small manufacturers, simply can't afford to make the investments to retool older plants, build news ones, and put the necessary resources into research and development and worker training. And, as I stated earlier, over the last four years, we've hemorrhaged a record number of manufacturing jobs.

That said, if we think ahead and make the right investments now -- in our workers, in new industries, and new equipment -- we can create a manufacturing sector that's, once again, the envy of the world. Today, I'm happy to announce my three part manufacturing plan that will, once again, make America a manufacturing titan.
First and foremost, we need stop, the runaway job loss that's occurred under this Administration and then use smart policies to jumpstart the manufacturing sector and get it going again. Last month, as part of my jobs plan, I introduced a New Jobs Tax Credit that would encourage companies to hire new workers by paying their share of payroll taxes for any new manufacturing jobs. This will help stimulate real growth. But it's only half the puzzle.

To end job loss, we need to stop currency manipulation and, once and for all, start enforcing our trade agreements. For years now, both China and Japan have purposely kept their currencies undervalued, leaving U.S. exporters at a major price disadvantage. This is not only unfair for America's companies, it seriously undermines job security for our workers. So does unfair trade practices. Tuesday, in Wheeling, West Virginia, I spoke about the critical need to enforce our existing trade agreements, so we can create a level playing field for our workers and businesses.

The simple fact is that in the 21st century economy, America must engage in the global economy. We can't thrive if we don't. But we'll never get ahead if other countries aren't living up to their part of the bargain. For three years, this Administration has been asleep on the job, allowing other nations to selectively abide by our trade agreements. And because of it, we now have a $500 billion trade deficit. That's just not right. It's time this administration woke up and started doing what's necessary to create American manufacturing jobs.

The second part of my manufacturing plan focuses on making America more competitive. We have a leadership that doesn't even think outsourcing is a problem. In fact, for the last several years, that has been the centerpiece of their strategy to make America more competitive. I have an alternative vision which is making America a more attractive place to create more jobs at better wages.

To do that, we need to reduce costs for American businesses and put an end to special tax breaks for companies creating jobs overseas. Now, reducing business costs isn't easy, but we can help by chipping away at what's often the one expense that stands in the way of hiring new workers health care. Under this Administration, health care premiums have soared by 49 percent, the highest in decades. Health care in this country shouldn't be a luxury, and it shouldn't keep a worker out of a job. My plan would cut health care premiums by up to $1,000 for a family, cutting the cost for businesses, and making it more affordable for America's families.

My manufacturing plan would also stop breaks for companies that move jobs overseas, and use the savings to cut taxes for 99 percent of tax-paying corporations that employee people here in America. Businesses can use that money to help pay for expenses, like new equipment, research, and health care. And, to free up more capital for investment, my plan would also cut our budget deficit in half, while still investing in better health care and education, and keeping other government spending in check. This will help restore confidence and give a much-needed boost to the American manufacturing sector.

The fact is that tax reform and trade enforcement can go a long way. But the only way to guarantee new manufacturing jobs of the future is to invest in them. America needs to be out in front a leading innovative force not stuck in the back of the pack playing catch up. The third and most important part of my manufacturing plan will help make America that much more competitive.

To begin with, I will establish Manufacturing Business Investment Corporations to give venture capital and start-up financing to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies. These companies are often the lifeblood of larger urban areas and smaller towns and outlying communities. The program is modeled on the successful Small Business Investment Company, which, over the years, has provided start-up capital to businesses like Intel, America Online, Apple, and Federal Express, just to name a few. In this economy, small and medium-sized manufacturing companies have struggled to get the funds they've needed from Wall Street to develop products and purchase equipment. In fact, venture capital investment nationwide has hit rock bottom plunging from more than $106 billion in 2000 to only $21 billion in 2002. Why not give small manufacturing companies the same shot as the SBIC gives to small businesses?

My manufacturing plan will also double the funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership a critical program that helps speed the adoption of new technology by small and medium- sized manufacturers. The 350,000 small manufacturers in our country account for more than half the value of America's industrial production, and employ more than 11 million people in high-skill, high-wage jobs. And the Manufacturing Extension Partnership deserves partial credit for that. In 2002, through consulting and training seminars, it helped small businesses create $2.8 billion in sales and 25,000 jobs. Yet, in the midst of the worst manufacturing crisis in eighty years, the Bush Administration has proposed cutting it by a ninety percent. That's just bad policy, and as president, I'm going to fix it.

Finally, my manufacturing plan will invest the workers of the future our nation children. My College Opportunity Tax Credit will make four years of college universally accessible, with a tax credit on up to $4,000 of tuition for four years of college. This will give you the tax cut you need if you're here for the first time, or provide you with the resources to go on for a third and fourth year. It will expand training and lifelong learning, especially at community colleges like this one, and give people the opportunity to get back up to speed or to develop new skills. And my plan will invest in industries of tomorrow, including broadband, biotechnology, and nanotechnology, that will allow us to attract and retain high wage manufacturing jobs we need to compete in the 21st century.

I'd like to finish up by saying this: I truly believe that if we work together, and put the failed policies of the past behind us, we can jumpstart America's economic engine and build a stronger America. A stronger America that values good jobs, good health care, and good education. If we work together, manufacturing can come back and shine as never before.

Thank you.

Paid for by John Kerry for President, Inc.

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