Last night President Obama spoke about the urgent need for growth in American manufacturing: "We have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed."
America's manufacturers are working hard every day to bring jobs back to this country by investing in our workers, our facilities and our operations to strengthen and revitalize our industries. What we need from Washington to help our efforts succeed is an infrastructure program that will help U.S. manufacturers complete globally. It is time for Congress and the Administration to pass a fully-funded highway bill and not more short-term stop gap measures.
We continue to see bipartisan rhetoric from both the Administration and members of Congress supporting job creation through infrastructure investment, but still no action has been taken. Last night President Obama insisted for the second year in a row that we need to "do some nation-building right here at home." America's manufacturers are done with rhetoric, and ready for action.
There is no one piece of legislation now before Congress that could do more to immediately create jobs and sharpen U.S. competitiveness than the highway bill. Instead of long-term reauthorization of funds to pay for much needed investment in our crumbling roads and bridges, Congress has kicked the can down the road eight different times, passing yet another six-month extension. As our global competitors know, 21st century roads and bridges are not made six months at a time.
We also urge the President to reconsider his decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. America's future depends on economic growth and energy security, and we cannot afford to reject the tremendous potential for both that large-scale, strategic infrastructure projects such as Keystone represent. On the jobs front alone, the pipeline would create more than 120,000 jobs, including more than 20,000 high-wage jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries where the unemployment rate is staggering.
Republicans and Democrats agree that without a thriving manufacturing base, our nation's economy cannot improve, but they arent doing anything serious to address this. America's manufacturers look to Congress and the Administration to move beyond the rhetoric and begin rebuilding and modernizing Americas infrastructure. Americans deserve more than just talk, they want jobs and a crucial investment in our global competitiveness.
Dennis Slater is president of Association of Equipment Manufacturers, which supports "I Make America."
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