Obama's Jobs Plan Garners Mixed Response From Manufacturing Groups

Passing free-trade agreements, approving Keystone XL pipeline should be top priorities, NAM says.

Manufacturers are encouraged that President Obama is focusing on job creation, but the president "missed the mark" in his address to the joint chambers of Congress Thursday night.

That's the assertion of the National Association of Manufacturers, which fired off a statement shortly after Obama wrapped up his speech in time for the kickoff of the 2011 NFL season.

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons offered "several steps that the president can take immediately to grow our economy and make the U.S. more competitive."

One is to pass pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, Timmons noted.

"Manufacturers are pleased the president mentioned these agreements tonight as we believe they have languished too long," Timmons said.

Obama "needs to transmit the agreements to Congress quickly because they will create 100,000 new jobs and bring an additional $12 billion annually in exports, according the International Trade Commission," Timmons added.

He also urged Obama to green-light the Keystone XL pipeline, "which is expected to immediately create more than 20,000 high-wage U.S. manufacturing and construction jobs, but has been awaiting the president's approval since 2009."

The reaction from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers: Act now.

AEM President Dennis Slater urged Obama to push through a "well-funded highway bill," referencing Obama's promise in January to create U.S. jobs by repairing the nation's deteriorating infrastructure.

"That was more than eight months ago, and the deadline to pass a long-term highway bill is only a few weeks away," Slater said in a news release.

"Over the past two years, political leaders have settled for no fewer than seven short-term extensions of the highway bill," Slater said. "However, roads and bridges aren't funded or built a few months at a time. These critical projects require long-term investment."

He emphasized that construction-equipment manufacturers "are eager to rebuild and modernize infrastructure projects throughout the nation."

"A well-funded highway bill will allow people to get back to work, provide much-needed revenue to local communities and restore a sense of optimism in our nation's future," Slater said. "What's needed is a sense of urgency from political leaders in D.C."

NAM's Timmons agreed that U.S. manufacturers are eager "to do their part in the shared effort to create jobs."

But Timmons cautioned that "the answer isn't increasing taxes on job creators while expecting them to create jobs at the same time."

"And singling out industries for tax purposes will only stifle investment and further limit job creation," Timmons said.

"The recipe calls for less regulation from federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board, increased energy supply, access to new markets, and investments rather than heavier tax burdens.

"Time is running out, and millions of Americans need to get back to work."

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