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National Association of Manufacturers’ John Engler on the new Jobs For America report

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HH: Tomorrow night, you’re going to hear the President talk a lot about jobs. I hope that his staff gets a hold of a new Milken Institute study, Jobs For America: Investments And Policies For Economic Growth And Competitiveness. It was sponsored by the National Association for Manufacturers, and NAM’s president, John Engler, joins me now. Governor Engler, of course, three term governor of Michigan, now in D.C. representing people in business. Governor, good to have you on again, thanks for making the time.

JE: Well, good evening, great to be with you, and delighted to talk about Jobs For America strategy that we believe leads to the right investments and the right policies for economic growth and competitiveness.

HH: Now it’s a great report. It’s almost forty pages long, full of facts, full of details. What’s the key takeaway, Governor? I mean, people should go read it at the Milken Institute website, and I’m sure NAM’s got a link to it, too.

JE: We do, both Milken and NAM have links to this. We’re sending it all over Washington today to every member of Congress, to anybody that we think can influence Congress. But bottom line, of course, it recognizes I think something your show knows well. Government doesn’t create jobs. Business creates the jobs, and we need to encourage that to happen. And the report, I think, does something that we’ve needed to do for some time, and I’m just pleased that the NAM could have engaged the Milken Institute to get this done. We really go into the numbers. We dive deeply and say look, if you reduce corporate tax rates, if you make the R & D credit better, make it permanent, if you modernize our system of export controls, guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to create jobs, if we do all three of those things, nearly a million new manufacturing jobs, and nearly three million total jobs right there. And we’re going to add significantly to GDP. This is over a ten year period. But the implications of this are very clear for Congress. What we need to do is encourage this investment, and get the private sector working. That’s how we get the economy moving.

HH: I want to quote here from Page 49. “The Clean Energy Act of 2009, introduced by Senators Alexander and Webb, bipartisan, proposes $100 billion in investment in the nuclear industry. Over 20 years, the study reveals that would produce 139,000 construction-related jobs, producing $6 billion in earnings with ripple effects of 397,000 jobs, $15.5 billion in earnings, $48 billion in output. That’s the kind of smart investment, Governor Engler, we didn’t get the last time around.

JE: No. And you’re right. The other part of the report is an analysis, because we are concerned about jobs and how quickly we can get America back to work, and at the same time, make sure that money we’re spending, that we’re investing, is actually making a difference, and it’s improving our ability to compete, it’s improving our productivity. It’s going to be there that we use it for a long time. Well, guess what? There’s a whole host of economic, what we’d call capital investments, and they’re everything from energy security strategy, where we allow for additional drilling on and off the shore for gas and oil, where we are building the new, modern, 21st Century air traffic control system, where we…the President’s right. Let’s have a better grid. Let’s get that efficiency up higher. Let’s improve the way we handle everything from the highway system to the inland waterways.

HH: Now this brings me to the key question, Governor, because a couple of my law partners, Gary Wolensky and Liz McNulty do a lot of time advising companies about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, I know how botched up that is. I know how it’s ruined manufacturing and destroyed competitiveness, et cetera. A lot of people like me don’t really trust Congress to do any of this well. If they can’t handle something as simple as lead levels and phthalate levels in products, how could they possibly get this right?

JE: Well, part of what they need to do is simply either get themselves or get the administration out of the way, and we’ve said this to President Obama’s team. Look, you control the permits. Why don’t we, if we’re talking about simply building more highly energy efficient power lines that go from generating plants to your local neighborhood substation, those are already power lines that are there. Let’s waive the environmental permit. You know, we know what it’s going to be when it’s done. It’s going to be a power line again. It’s just going to be modernized. Let’s make this stuff go faster. If we’re going to do the air traffic control system, we’ve got to have…okay, what policy does the FAA want to have? You’ve got to make some decisions. It’s hard to blame the private sector when the government won’t give the permit. There are companies today that want to build nuclear power plants. They want to get started on that dream that you mentioned, that the Senators were working on. Well, give them the permits. Let them go. China’s building a hundred plants now.

HH: And so you think it is possible to write legislation that will accomplish these goals without Congress hijacking it?

JE: Well, it absolutely…more than theoretically possible. It’s actually been done at various times in our history. But in some cases, we don’t even need the legislation. We need the agency to be prodded to act. I mean on nuclear power, we really need no new legislation. I think it would be helpful if we would expand loan guarantees, but one of the reasons the loan guarantees are needed is to guard against the risk of government, which is a sad state of affairs.

HH: I’m talking with Governor John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. They are the sponsors of the brand new study, which is linked at the NAM website called Jobs For America from the Milken Institute, which you really ought to read if you care about this. What do you expect to hear in the State Of The Union, Governor, tomorrow night? Do you expect he will do anything remotely approaching the Milken Institute’s recommendations?

JE: Well, I certainly hope he will. The President has no doubt been rewriting that speech since Tuesday night, and I would hope that it truly is focused on jobs and economic growth, and growth in the private sector. This has been the message of the manufacturers in American now for months, is that look, where is the demand? Where’s, you know, you’ve got to get focused on what really brings this country back, and we haven’t been there. In fact, what we’ve been doing is creating more risk, threatening to raise taxes even higher, we’ve held all that stuff off, and threatening, certainly, to do a lot more in the way of regulation. And we’ve been doing about everything you can to send the signal we don’t want the jobs in this country. That’s the wrong direction. I hope the President says looks, mistakes were made. We need to go forward, and here’s a plan where we can work together to really help these Americans who are out of work. And once we start doing that, a lot of good things will start to happen.

HH: Well, I hope you send a whole bunch of copies of Jobs For America over to the White House, Governor John Engler.

JE: Indeed we have.

HH: Thank you for joining us today. The report is called Jobs For America. It’s from the Milken Institute. It’s linked at the National Association of Manufacturers. Best thing to do is simply Google NAM, and maybe Google NAM and Engler, and get the report, read it, and then perhaps send a link to your Congressman, as well your Senator. It is sound, very workable policy prescriptions to actually get jobs underway in the United States.

End of interview.


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