Washington, DC – US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton believes the federal government can help improve the country's manufacturing base. The Democratic senator has teamed up with a Republican in creating the bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus.
The numbers aren't good. In New York last year, manufacturing was the only industry to lose jobs. Over the last 5 years, the country lost about 3 million manufacturing jobs. Clinton says the nation can't sustain a strong economy without a manufacturing sector.
"If we don't make something, if we're not constantly pushing the envelope of discovery and innovation and technology, we cannot maintain our standard of living and our quality of life," Clinton said.
Clinton formed the manufacturing caucus with South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham. The Senate has been busy with issues like confirmations and an energy bill. The creation of a manufacturing caucus is expected to focus senate attention on this issue. Clinton and Graham are concerned not only with the economic consequences of manufacturing but the national security implications.
"A nation that is unable to produce the component parts for the weapons systems to keep it free, has weakened itself," Graham said. "And I think we're on the road to weakening ourselves as manufacturing jobs continue to be lost."
Graham says any fix will take into account globalization. Clinton hopes that the caucus will present creative solutions.
"Some of it may be legislative, some of it frankly may be changes in management or labor attitudes or practices or figuring out how local communities can be more supportive," Clinton said.
Clinton adds much can be learned from manufacturing successes like Corning in the Finger Lakes region. While the bipartisan caucus may agree on the problem, it remains to be seen if they can agree on a solution. Manufacturing issues often pits business versus labor.