'Launching Point'

Dec. 21, 2004
Execs want manufacturing report follow up.

Jerry J. Jasinowski, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), allows that not every recommendation that NAM wanted to see was included in "Manufacturing in America: A Comprehensive Strategy to Address the Challenges to U.S. Manufacturers," the U.S. Commerce Department's long-awaited document on U.S. manufacturing released Jan. 16. However, "this report is comprehensive and is a launching point for addressing the domestic and international challenges that have had such a negative impact on U.S. manufacturers and their workers," stresses Jasinowski. "What we need to do now is convert the report into real world action." In the course of 21 pages of recommendations, the report recommits the Bush administration to creating a new assistant secretary for manufacturing and services within the Commerce Department and, among other things, urges Congress to make permanent recent tax cuts, enact class-action lawsuit reform, approve asbestos liability reform, enact a comprehensive energy plan, change pension funding rules, strengthen the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and establish a high school and technical education partnership. Reducing the tax burden of business is "absolutely critical," says Karen B. Wright, president and CEO of Ariel Corp., a maker of gas compressors in Mount Vernon, Ohio. "Make the dividend tax go away and stay away," she says. "Reduce the capital gains tax to an even lower level," she urges. "Just reform and simplify the tax code, add credit for capital improvements and job training programs and let the private sector do the rest." On another front, she says modernizing the U.S. legal system -- especially tort reform -- would be nice. It's "time to quit talking about it and do it." Not surprisingly, given her industry, she believes energy legislation, particularly dealing with natural gas and nuclear policy issues, is "critical." On education, Wright asks, "Since we already have a system of joint vocational schools throughout the country, why not revive that instead of adding to the mix?" In addition to its recommendations, the report highlights some of the concerns and suggestions expressed by manufacturing executives who attended 23 fact-finding roundtables that preceded the report's writing. "I think the United States is the only country in the G8 [a group of advanced industrialized countries plus Russia] which doesn't have a very high level department of manufacturing," Bob Brunner of Illinois Tool Works said at the Rockford, Ill., roundtable on May 12, 2003. "I think that [establishing such a department] would be a real positive development in terms of supporting us manufacturers." Among others quoted in the report are Mustafa Mohatarem of General Motors Corp., Curt Magleby of Ford Motor Co., John Vaught of Tri-Cast, Keith Guggenberger of Starkey Labs, Rick Kelly of Pellerin Milnor Corp., Gene Reinhardt of Dow Chemical Co. and Don Wainwright of Wainwright Industries.

About the Author

John McClenahen | Former Senior Editor, IndustryWeek

 John S. McClenahen, is an occasional essayist on the Web site of IndustryWeek, the executive management publication from which he retired in 2006. He began his journalism career as a broadcast journalist at Westinghouse Broadcasting’s KYW in Cleveland, Ohio. In May 1967, he joined Penton Media Inc. in Cleveland and in September 1967 was transferred to Washington, DC, the base from which for nearly 40 years he wrote primarily about national and international economics and politics, and corporate social responsibility.
      McClenahen, a native of Ohio now residing in Maryland, is an award-winning writer and photographer. He is the author of three books of poetry, most recently An Unexpected Poet (2013), and several books of photographs, including Black, White, and Shades of Grey (2014). He also is the author of a children’s book, Henry at His Beach (2014).
      His photograph “Provincetown: Fog Rising 2004” was selected for the Smithsonian Institution’s 2011 juried exhibition Artists at Work and displayed in the S. Dillon Ripley Center at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., from June until October 2011. Five of his photographs are in the collection of St. Lawrence University and displayed on campus in Canton, New York.
      John McClenahen’s essay “Incorporating America: Whitman in Context” was designated one of the five best works published in The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies during the twelve-year editorship of R. Barry Leavis of Rollins College. John McClenahen’s several journalism prizes include the coveted Jesse H. Neal Award. He also is the author of the commemorative poem “Upon 50 Years,” celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Wolfson College Cambridge, and appearing in “The Wolfson Review.”
      John McClenahen received a B.A. (English with a minor in government) from St. Lawrence University, an M.A., (English) from Western Reserve University, and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University, where he also pursued doctoral studies. At St. Lawrence University, he was elected to academic honor societies in English and government and to Omicron Delta Kappa, the University’s highest undergraduate honor. John McClenahen was a participant in the 32nd Annual Wharton Seminars for Journalists at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. During the Easter Term of the 1986 academic year, John McClenahen was the first American to hold a prestigious Press Fellowship at Wolfson College, Cambridge, in the United Kingdom.
      John McClenahen has served on the Editorial Board of Confluence: The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies and was co-founder and first editor of Liberal Studies at Georgetown. He has been a volunteer researcher on the William Steinway Diary Project at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and has been an assistant professorial lecturer at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.


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