The candidates and manufacturing
Editor’s Note: The 2008 presidential election is Tuesday, Nov. 4. In order to help manufacturing leaders understand the positions of the two presidential candidates on issues that affect plant and manufacturing operations, Plant Engineering has taken their position papers and made them available to our readers. While these are excerpts, the contents are taken verbatim from the candidates’ Websites.
To help readers gain further knowledge of the background of the candidates, their Websites are also included with the candidate pictures.
An important right and privilege for Americans is the unfettered right to vote. Please exercise that right on Nov. 4.
. . . John McCain
U.S. Senator from Arizona
McCain believes that to keep America competitive in the world economy, employers need to be able to attract and retain workers. This requires employers to offer flexible work arrangements and allow workers to bring their health and retirement benefits with them or choose new plans.
McCain also believes that as our workforce ages, many older Americans want to continue to stay in jobs. These workers have the experience and skills that help keep America competitive. More flexible work arrangements would enable these workers to continue their careers and help keep our economy competitive.
McCain is calling for a National Commission on Workplace Flexibility and Choice. This Commission would bring together a bipartisan set of leaders representing workers, small and large employers, labor, and academics. The Commission would make recommendations to the President on how modernizing our nation’s labor laws and training programs can help workers better balance the demands of their job with family life and to enable workers to more easily transition between jobs.
The Commission would examine the following issues that McCain believes are important to workplace flexibility and choice:
Modernizing the nation’s labor laws so that they allow for more flexible scheduling arrangements
Ensuring that the nation’s labor laws don’t get in the way of working at home
Promoting telework so that workers can spend less time commuting
Making health more portable so that workers don’t lose their benefits when they switch jobs
Ensuring that workers can choose retirement plans that best suit their needs
Providing workers with more choice in job training assistance so that they can build the skills they need for new and better jobs.
McCain believes that globalization is an opportunity for American workers today and in the future. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers lie outside our borders, and we need to be at the table when the rules for access to those markets are written. To do so, the U.S. should engage in multilateral, regional and bilateral efforts to reduce barriers to trade, level the global playing field and build effective enforcement of global trading rules.
McCain will overhaul unemployment insurance and make it a program for retraining, relocating and assisting workers who have lost a job. The unemployment insurance system created in the 1950s needs to be modernized to meet the goals of helping displaced workers make ends meet between jobs and moving people quickly on to the next opportunity. McCain will reform the half-dozen training programs to approaches that can be used to meet the bills, pay for training, and get back to work. McCain believes that we can strengthen community colleges and technical training, and give displaced workers more choices to find their way back to productive and prosperous lives.
McCain will fight to ensure American workers continue to benefit from exports to other countries. American workers make and sell about $200 billion in heavy machinery to other countries every year. Our workers export more than $70 billion in aircraft and parts, more than $148 billion in electrical machinery and equipment, and $106 billion in cars, trucks, and other vehicles. In all, one in every five American jobs depends on factory exports.
McCain is committed to pursuing free trade agreements with our world trading partners. As president, he will pursue multilateral, regional and bilateral efforts to reduce trade barriers, level the global playing field and build effective enforcement of global trading rules.
. . . Barack Obama
U.S. Senator from Illinois
Invest in our next generation innovators and job creators: Obama will create an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to identify and invest in the most compelling advanced manufacturing strategies. The fund will have a peer-review selection and award process based on the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund, a state-level initiative that has awarded over $125 million to Michigan businesses with the most innovative proposals to create new products and new jobs in the state.
Double funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership: The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with manufacturers across the country to improve efficiency, implement new technology and strengthen company growth. This highly-successful program has engaged in more than 350,000 projects across the country and in 2006 alone, helped create and protect over 50,000 jobs. But despite this success, funding for MEP has been slashed by the Bush administration. Barack Obama will double funding for the MEP so its training centers can continue to bolster the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.
Invest in a clean energy economy and create 5 million new green jobs: Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. The plan will also invest in America’s highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the first wave of green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world.
Create new job training programs for clean technologies: The Obama plan will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable, high-paying jobs. Obama will also create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.
Boost the renewable energy sector and create new jobs: The Obama plan will create new federal policies, and expand existing ones, that have been proven to create new American jobs. Obama will create a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard that will require 25% of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by 2025, which has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs on its own. Obama will also extend the Production Tax Credit, a credit used successfully by American farmers and investors to increase renewable energy production and create new local jobs.