The numbers are outrageous, sickening even. How can anyone stand to look at them?
Since 2000, the U.S. has lost 5.5 million manufacturing jobs, with 2.1 million of those jobs being lost in the last two years alone. Since 2001, over 42,400 factories have closed in the U.S., and another 90,000 are considered at severe risk of closing. The last time so few were employed in manufacturing was in 1941, before World War II spending pulled that sector out of its Great Depression slump.
Numbers like these make me want to cry.
So President Obama has come up with a big and bold solution to deal with the problem. He's going to shut down the federal office that counts how many jobs are being shipped overseas.
It's like ignoring a bully that picks on you in grade school. If we just ignore companies like Whirlpool that take stimulus money and ship jobs overseas--maybe they will stop doing it.
That will show those big multinational companies. Hit them where it really hurts--in their egos.
Seriously, folks, this is what President Obama is really proposing. From The Washington Post:
Like a scorekeeper for the world, a tiny unit within the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks globalization's winners and losers, and the results are not always pretty for the United States. Manufacturing jobs here, for example, have fallen faster since 1979 than in Canada, Germany or Japan. Compensation for those jobs dropped here in 2008 but jumped in South Korea and Australia.
Soon, however, Americans may be spared the demoralization in these numbers: The White House wants to shutter the unit that produces them.
President Obama's budget would eliminate the International Labor Comparisons office and transfer its 16 economists to expand the bureau's work tracking inflation and occupational trends.
Remember how as Iraq became a quagmire, President George W. Bush said he wasn't fazed by the news because he didn't read the newspaper? President Obama looks as if he is taking a similar approach to job outsourcing. Just ignore the problem and it will go away. You don't miss what you don't measure.
It didn't work in our misadventures in Iraq and it certainly won't work in dealing with how to compete in the global economy.
How did that happen?
Germany actually came up with a comprehensive plan to encourage manufacturing in Germany. Meanwhile, the United States has proposed to just stop counting how many jobs we are losing.
If President Obama really wants to deal with this problem, he would also develop a national manufacturing strategy. This week a bipartisan group of senators, including Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), wrote to President Obama this week asking him to do just that:
Indeed, for the last several decades, administrations have passed up critical opportunities to formulate a rational and comprehensive manufacturing policy. Continued apathy will undermine our country's ability to achieve energy independence and place our military readiness at risk....
Without an adequate commitment of resources and coordination among every executive branch department, we are afraid that the tenets of this framework may not be appropriately fulfilled. We would therefore respectfully request additional information about how the Administration is putting these strategies to work, including specific goals, detailed initiatives supporting those goals, and performance measures to help ensure continuous progress.
If President Obama really wants to take a bipartisan approach to creating jobs, he can do it by creating a national strategy to grow manufacturing jobs--not by refusing to count the cost of inaction.