In his State of the Union address on Jan. 18, President Obama presented several programs and initiatives to Congress and to the American people, many of which could have a noticeable impact on manufacturing—which, of course, includes valve, actuator and control manufacturing.
He also proposed changes to policy regarding the oil and gas industry and had ideas for repairing America’s aging infrastructure. Following are a few highlights from the speech, categorized by areas that could be of special note to our readers.
Please note that neither the Valve Manufacturers Association nor Valve Magazine are commenting on these in this article, nor are we endorsing these plans. We are simply highlighting them so that you will be aware of the proposals in the address and, if appropriate, you may take advantage of initiatives that could benefit your business.
“Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores… Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values… This blueprint begins with American manufacturing.
“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. We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it.
“So let's change it. First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies … that decide to bring jobs home.
“Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here.
“Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment or training for new workers.
“It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I'll sign them right away.
“Here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.
“With the bipartisan support of this Congress, we are providing new tax credits to companies that hire vets. Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with American businesses to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families.”
“We’re also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world… With the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law, we are on track to meet that goal—ahead of schedule. Soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products.”
Intellectual property rights and fair trade
“I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules. We’ve brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration—and it’s made a difference. Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires… It's not right when another country lets our movies, music and software be pirated. It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they're heavily subsidized.
“Tonight, I’m announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders. And this Congress should make sure that no foreign company has an advantage over American manufacturing when it comes to accessing finance or new markets like Russia.”
“I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that—openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work.
“Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. My Administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, Orlando and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers—places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.
“And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people have one program, one website and one place to go for all the information and help they need. It’s time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work. These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today.”
Energy—oil subsidies and natural gas production
“Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’'ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it's been in eight years.
“But with only 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, oil isn't enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy—a strategy that's cleaner, cheaper and full of new jobs.
“We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I'm requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.
“The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock—reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.
“We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.”
“Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America's infrastructure. … During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. After World War II, we connected our States with a system of highways. Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.
“In the next few weeks, I will sign an Executive Order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.”