White House
President Joe Biden State of the Union

President Biden State of the Union Address: Manufacturing Business Groups React

March 2, 2022
A continued focus on infrastructure spending and American competitiveness wins praise from business leaders.

President Joe Biden Tuesday night delivered his State of the Union address, a speech dominated by the news in Ukraine. However, several business groups offered their takes on the address, primarily praising the president’s continued focus on bolstering American manufacturing and infrastructure—topics that tend to win broad bipartisan support.

Chemical Industry Support

Chris Jahn, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, says chemical producers can help achieve the president’s agenda of cleaner energy and transportation. 

“Chemistry is inextricably linked to scientific advancements and supply chain innovations needed to accomplish a wide range of sustainability and climate goals; improve environmental justice; build modern and resilient new infrastructure; and all the while, generate new economic and job growth,” Jahn said.

The council, he added, can support:

  • Protecting the Environment: “ACC has developed and issued a set of policy recommendations for a lower emissions future, and we’re engaging with Congress and the administration.”
  • Building a Modern Infrastructure: “Our industry is critical to providing the innovative construction materials and techniques needed to make America’s infrastructure more resilient and sustainable.”
  • Supply Chain Resilience: “ACC is urging the Biden administration to refocus U.S. efforts toward making supply chains more resilient. The benefits of globally integrated supply chains can only be realized when trading costs are low – and that means few, if any, tariffs.”
  • Helping End the Pandemic: “The U.S. chemical industry and its more than 500,000 employees... provide the countless products needed for life-saving medical care including: disinfectants, pharmaceuticals, biocides and personal protective gear.”

Legitimate Manufacturing Return

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), an advocacy group that includes manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union, praised Biden’s efforts to bolster manufacturing. President Scott Paul says Biden’s policies should lead to a “legitimate manufacturing return.” 

“When he brought up the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last year, he talked specifically about the Buy American commitments in them. When he laid out his plan to fight inflation, he brought up domestic investment and the reshoring of supply chains,” Paul said. “This makes sense because by many measures, 2021 was the year factories came back to the American economy. It’s been a wave of reindustrialization that other presidents have promised to realize but failed to achieve.”

Paul said more than 350,000 new manufacturing jobs were added in the U.S. last year, a trend that should continue thanks to massive factory announcements made by Intel, Ford, General Motors and Texas Instruments.

“The pandemic has demonstrated how obvious our over-reliance on imports is. Immediately, it was PPE and hand sanitizer. Two years in and it’s construction materials and semiconductor chips,” Paul said. “Now, informed by COVID-19 and the first conventional war in Europe in decades, businesses are considering their own resiliency and have an appreciation for pairing the sources of essential inputs with the location of final assembly.”

Paul pointed to policies many included in the bipartisan spending package approved last year that “included billions of dollars to lay the groundwork for the advent of widespread EV adaptation. It made sure that bill was backed by those government procurement ‘Buy America’ rules to guarantee much of its benefit will remain in the domestic economy. And it has maintained some of the tariffs Trump left for it to create a favorable market for domestic manufacturing activity.”

NAM: Focus on Policy, Not Politics

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released a more mixed, nuanced response to the president’s speech. 

“President Biden rightly focused on many policies that will keep manufacturing strong in America amid a global crisis. We strongly agree that the bipartisan infrastructure law was an accomplishment of historic proportion, and we continue to support its swift implementation,” Timmons said.

However, he added, “We strongly oppose proposals that would weaken our industry and threaten our recovery, including undoing the progress of tax reform and imposing policies that would disrupt our workplaces. Manufacturers are working hard to fill more than 800,000 open jobs and connect more Americans with rewarding careers, and some of the actions outlined [Tuesday] would make it harder for us to solve this top challenge.”

Much of Biden’s spending and social priorities have been stalled in recent months because of Democrats’ thin majority in the House and an evenly split Senate. That and high partisan attitudes nationwide have led to high-profile policy fights for months.

“In this time of challenge and uncertainty, we’re more committed than ever to focus on policy—not politics, personality or process,” Timmons said. “President Biden used his State of the Union address tonight to rally Americans and the world in support of [Ukraine] and rightly emphasized the importance of American leadership and defending our shared values when so much is at stake. Manufacturers join this call for unity.”

Innovation Group: Time to Double Down

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) VP of Global Innovation Stephen Ezell praised Biden’s support of various bills that would offer more than $50 billion investments in semiconductor R&D and manufacturing incentives for U.S. companies. 

“ITIF also welcomes President Biden’s announcement of $3 billion towards domestic manufacturing of advanced batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage. Other laudable mentions include America’s commitment to expanding skill-based hiring, increasing access to registered apprenticeship and training programs, and expanding STEM programs at Black colleges and universities,” Ezell said.

To lower costs for business and consumers, the ITIF urged the administration to reduce the cost of prescription drugs by capping the out-of-pocket cost for consumers, reforming the pharmacy benefit management system or increasing drug R&D efficiency.

“Policymakers should not impose simplistic drug price controls that undermine the industry’s ability to earn and reinvest returns and produce more innovative drugs,” Ezell said.

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