Rebuild the backbone of America: Manufacturing, unions, and the middle class

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By Caribbean News Global fav

WASHINGTON, USA – President Joe Biden on Monday, January 25, 2021, announced that “we’re getting to work to rebuild the backbone of America: manufacturing, unions, and the middle class’, based on a simple premise: that we’ll reward work, not wealth, in this country. And the key plank of ensuring the future will be “Made in America.”

“I don’t buy for one second the that the vitality of the American manufacturing is a thing of the past. American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War II, and it must be part of the engine of American prosperity now. That means we are going to use taxpayers’ money to rebuild America. We’ll buy American products and support American jobs, union jobs.”

President Biden explained: “For example, the federal government every year spends approximately $600 billion in government procurement to keep the country going safe and secure. And there’s a law that’s been on the books for almost a century now: to make sure that that money was spent — taxpayers’ dollars for procurement is spent to support American jobs and American businesses. But the previous administration didn’t take it seriously enough. Federal agencies waived the Buy American requirement without much pushback at all. Big corporations and special interests have long fought for loopholes to redirect American taxpayers’ dollars to foreign companies where the products are being made. The result: tens of billions of American taxpayers’ dollars supporting foreign jobs and foreign industries.”

According to data: in 2018 alone, the Defense Department spent $3 billion on foreign construction contracts, leaving American steel and iron out in the cold. It spent nearly $300 million in foreign engines and on vehicles instead of buying American vehicles and engines from American companies, putting Americans to work. Under the previous administration, the federal government contract awarded directly to foreign companies went up 30 percent.  That is going to change on our watch.

President Biden advised that as of Monday he is taking the first steps in his larger Build Back Better Recovery Plan that invests in American workers, unions, and businesses up and down the supply chain.

This executive order is entitled “Ensuring the Future Is Made in America, by Americans — All of American Workers.”

“I’m creating a director of Made in America at the White House Office of Management and Budget who will oversee our all-of-government Made in America initiative. That starts with stopping federal agencies from waiving Buy American requirements with impunity, as has been going on. If an agency wants to issue a waiver to say “We’re not going to buy an American product as part of this project; we’re going to buy a foreign product,” they have to come to the White House and explain it to us.

We’re going to require that waivers be publicly posted; that is, if someone is seeking a waiver to build this particular vehicle or facility and is going to buy the following foreign parts, that waiver — the request for it — is going to be posted. Then we’ll work with small American manufacturers and businesses to give them a shot to raise their hand and say, “Yeah, I can do that here in my shop, in my town.”

And I’m directing the Office of Management and Budget to review waivers to make sure they are only used in very limited circumstances.  For example, when there’s overwhelming national security, humanitarian, or emergency need here in America.  This hasn’t happened before. It will happen now.

Here’s what else we’re going to be doing. Under the Build Back Better Recovery Plan, we’ll invest hundreds of billions of dollars in buying American products and materials to modernize our infrastructure, and our competitive strength will increase in a competitive world. That means millions of good-paying jobs, using American-made steel and technology, to rebuild our roads, our bridges, our ports, and to make them more climate resilient, as well as making them able to move faster and cheaper and cleaner to transport American-made goods across the country and around the world, making us more competitive.

It also means replenishing our stockpiles to enhance our national security. We need to make our own protective equipment, essential products and supplies. And we’ll work with our allies to make sure they have resilient supply chains as well. We’ll also make historic investments in research and development — hundreds of billions of dollars — to sharpen America’s innovative edge in markets where global leadership is up for grabs — markets like battery technology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, clean energy.

The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we’re going to replace with clean, electric vehicles made right here in America by American workers, creating millions of jobs — a million autoworker jobs in clean energy — and vehicles that are net-zero emissions. And together, this will be the largest mobilization of public investment in procurement, infrastructure, and research and development  since World War II.

We’ll increase Buy American requirements for these kinds of projects and improve the way we measure domestic content requirements. For example, right now, if you manufacture a vehicle for the federal government, you need to show that at least 50 percent of the components of that vehicle were made in America.  But because of loopholes that have been expanded over time, you can count the least valuable possible parts as part of that 50 percent to say “Made in America,” while the most valuable parts — the engines, the steel, the glass, the manufacturing — are manufactured abroad. The content threshold of 50 percent aren’t high enough.

And the way we measure the content doesn’t account for US jobs and economic activity.
Will not only require that companies make more of their components in America, but that the value of those components is contributing to our economy, measured by things like a number of American jobs created and/or supported.

At the same time, we’ll be committed to working with our trading partners to modernize international trade rules, including those relating to government procurement, to make sure we can use — we can all use our taxpayer dollars to spur investment that promotes growth and resilient supply chains.

When we buy America, we’ll buy from all of America. That includes communities that have historically been left out of government procurement — black, brown, Native American small businesses and entrepreneurs in every region of the country.

We will use a national network of manufacturers called a Manufacturing Extension Partnership in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, to help government agency connect with new domestic suppliers across the country. This is a critical piece of building our economy back better and including everyone in the deal this time, especially small businesses that are badly hurting in this economy.

The executive action I am taking also reiterates my strong support for the Jones Act and American vessels, you know, and our ports, especially those important for America’s clean energy future and the development of offshore renewable energy.

“I’ll close with this: The reason we need to do this is America can’t sit on the sidelines in the race for the future. Our competitors aren’t waiting. To ensure the future is made in America, we need to win not just the jobs of today, but the jobs and industries of tomorrow. And we know that the middle class built this country, and we also know unions built the middle class. So let’s invest in them once again.”

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