Interviews ...Nano Vraaggesprek
'Revitalize Manufacturing and Invest in the
Jobs of the Future,' Says Kerry
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Paid for by John Kerry for President, Inc.