There were 3 basic areas that caught our attention in President Obama's SOTU address last night, particularly as it applied to small- and mid-sized manufacturers.
- Trade - It's good that the SOTU mentioned South Korea, Panama and Colombia; the agreements with these countries have been on the table for too long and they should be finalized. But can we expect trade with these 3 countries to offset the imbalance in manufacturing that we see in the US today? It seems we need to address trade with our more established and formidable partners for trade reform to have the impact on jobs and the economy that we all want.
- Taxes - There were good points made that indicate a willingness to cut taxes and enable exporting for farms and small business (see below), but why stop there? Large corporations support extensive supply chains that in turn feed work to small- and medium-sized manufacturers. This point alone is a perfect example of why a comprehensive manufacturing policy is necessary - a disjointed or myopic approach will leave innovation unfulfilled and money on the table. Taken along with the mentions of developing trade agreements or renegotiating existing ones with our trading partners, and it's clear that an overall, clearly enunciated strategy is needed.
- Exporting - Doubling our exports through a National Export Initiative must take into account the fragmented issues of taxes, regulation, trade agreements (currency manipulation, VATs & subsidies), and investment in innovation that will spur growth across the economy. Exporting is the supply-side, which will only succeed at the rate of demand - it is a result or a goal, and less of a direct action. Enabling our base of manufacturers to export more without opening markets to those products seems pointless.
An extensive, comprehensive policy that takes an holistic view of the manufacturing economy and its ancillary impact is required. If you'd like to sign a petition to the President and Congress encouraging them toward that policy, you can do that here.