Page member Erin Streeter not only is CCO for the National Association of Manufacturers, but also is one of the NAM’s primary points of contact with the White House at an incredibly interesting time for the American government and for business. I had the privilege of interviewing her for a recent Page Conversation. Here are some of her observations and insights:
- Biden and business
The Biden Administration is committed to working with businesses on their major priorities. Although the American Rescue Plan (pandemic relief package) was pushed through with no negotiations, the next two major packages, the American Jobs Plan (infrastructure) and American Families Plan, are subject to discussion and negotiation.
Even before the presidential inauguration, during the transition, the NAM was working closely with incoming Biden Administration officials on policies affecting jobs and workers, with a particular focus on pandemic response. Those conversations are ongoing and productive.
The NAM is aligned with the Biden Administration, broadly speaking, on the imperative of upgrading U.S. infrastructure. The NAM’s own infrastructure proposal, Building to Win, dates to 2016, and offers a detailed blueprint to make America’s infrastructure the greatest in the world.
- Corporate and individual tax rates
The NAM was instrumentally involved in the 2017 tax reform bill, which lowered both corporate and individual tax rates, and the NAM argues that manufacturers have been paying forward the benefits. In their Competing to Win roadmap for candidates and elected officials, they write, “Adoption of a more competitive tax system has invigorated manufacturing in the United States. Manufacturers’ optimism reached record highs following tax reform’s passage, and this optimism has translated into action. After tax reform’s passage, output in the manufacturing sector reached an all-time high, and manufacturing job creation was the highest in more than two decades in 2018.”
As a result, the NAM opposes increases in the individual and corporate tax rates, which will, they argue, create competitive disadvantages for U.S. businesses. An NAM study found that the proposed increases would cost 1 million jobs in just the first two years. The NAM originally advocated a 15% corporate rate before the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered the rate from 35% to 21%. President Biden has proposed raising it to 28%.
- Deficits and other funding sources
The NAM has offered multiple ideas for paying for infrastructure that do not involve tax increases on manufacturers. Their Building to Win infrastructure proposal includes some options. Specifically:
- Private investment
- National infrastructure bank
- User fees
- Climate change
Regarding President Biden’s major commitment to address climate change by halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, the NAM believes this will not be achievable without a strong partnership with manufacturers, whose innovation is essential to any solution. Also required is a worldwide commitment to ensure that all countries participate, which is essential both to a level playing field and an effective global solution.
- Pandemic response
The NAM is proud of the work U.S. manufacturers have done during the pandemic to provide ventilators and vaccines. The NAM’s This is Your Shot campaign got a big boost at the Oscars and is helping to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
There are more than 500K jobs open in industry now, and the difficulty of finding skilled workers is always in the top three of manufacturing CEO concerns in surveys. The NAM’s Creators Wanted campaign is designed to get more emerging workers to accurately look at modern manufacturing careers as prizes to be had and not as consolation prizes.
President Biden’s proposal to provide free community college degrees to all Americans has not yet been endorsed by the NAM, but there is certainly interest in and commitment to advanced technical education short of a four-year college degree.
1 According to the Tax Foundation, “The worldwide average statutory corporate income tax rate, measured across 177 jurisdictions, is 23.85 percent. When weighted by GDP, the average statutory rate is 25.85 percent.”