Reed’s vision for manufacturing growth topped by tax reform, strong trade policies

Reforming an antiquated U.S. tax code and ensuring that trade policies always put American manufacturers first will go far toward revitalizing the nation’s manufacturing sector and lifting the economy, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) said.

“America is becoming more competitive each and every year,” Reed said in an interview with the Ripon Advance. “Given the nature of the world market and the nature of what we’re doing with lowering our utility costs and trying to make ourselves as efficient as possible, I see a great opportunity for U.S. manufacturing ahead.”

Reed, who serves as co-chair of the House Manufacturing Caucus, recently unveiled his comprehensive plan, Our Vision for America’s Manufacturing Future, which aims to promote U.S. advanced manufacturing.

His proposals include tax policies that support the creation of jobs, pro-growth regulations, policies that promote investments in research and development, and workforce development programs that ensure applicants have the skills needed to fill advanced manufacturing jobs.

One of the biggest barriers to growth in the American manufacturing sector is the broken U.S. tax code, Reed said.

“We are committed to a simple, fair tax code that will encourage us to be competitive in the world market,” said Reed, who also serves on the House Ways and Means Committee.

The nation’s tax code, which hasn’t been overhauled since 1986, puts American companies at a disadvantage by placing the highest tax rate on businesses compared to the United States’ major trading partners. Reed argues this hurts manufacturers by preventing them from investing in new technologies, expanding their operations and creating new jobs.

Reforms proposed in the House Republican’s Blueprint for Tax Reform call for building a more competitive tax environment for U.S. manufacturers, whether they are making products in America and selling them domestically or around the world.

Reducing restrictive regulations and creating opportunities for trade that benefit American manufacturers are also important.

“We need to make sure our trade policy goes after unfair trade practices that are out there and that we are vigorously pursuing trade enforcement to make sure we have a level playing field,” Reed said.

Policies such as the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, passed by Congress earlier this year, allow the government to enforce trade laws related to intellectual property theft and currency manipulation.

Also critical, Reed said, is building on the success of the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI), bipartisan legislation that was signed into law in 2014. Reed spearheaded that initiative, along with Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Sherrod Brown (D- OH) to bolster investments in manufacturing technology.

RAMI has helped spur growth in the manufacturing sector by fostering public-private partnerships that promote advanced manufacturing centers across the country.

“What this focuses on is using those public-private partnerships and using colleges and universities across the country to get the most innovative and creative ideas from the lab into full production and commercialization,” Reed said.

Reed’s home district in New York was the first to create a high tech hub after the bill’s passage.  The hub in western New York focuses on photonics, or the study of light. Another high tech manufacturing hub was launched earlier this year in Massachusetts to develop revolutionary fibers and textiles.

While RAMI has fostered relationships with workforce development programs, the plan makes the case that more training needs to be done to prepare the next generation of workers to compete in today’s global economy. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which would update how federal support is provided to technical education programs, is viewed as a step in that direction.

Strong bipartisan support exists for supporting American manufacturing, Reed said, and he is hopeful that at least some elements of his plan to strengthen the manufacturing sector will get enacted next year.

“I think 2017 is shaping up with the stars aligning with a new administration, from either perspective, and folks on both sides of the aisle are talking about how they cannot defend the American tax code. And that is a huge component of our vision for the future of manufacturing in America.”

He also sees bipartisan appetite for reforming regulations that impact manufacturing, where the costs and benefits of proposals would drive policy discussions.