Manufacturing has been the backbone of our economy in Michigan and America for generations. American manufacturing helped to create the middle class by providing good paying jobs for millions of families including my family.
Like so many others from our community my dad was an assembly line worker in a General Motors auto plant. The value of hard work was engrained in me at an early age by both of my parents as they worked very hard to help their children achieve the American dream.
Manufacturing, building things, has been invaluable to our economy, but unfortunately in recent decades expanding government has contributed to pushing manufacturing jobs out of America.
The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 12.2 million Americans are employed in manufacturing jobs, down from the peak of 19.5 million in 1979. In 1989 the number of government workers passed those engaged in manufacturing and today government employs over 22.2 million workers, 10 million more jobs than in manufacturing.
This disparity is a real impediment to growth in our economy and limits opportunity for many families. An ever growing tax code now exceeds 74,000 pages and is riddled with special interest deductions and constantly expanding regulations force many American companies to find better places to do business and create jobs.
This must change and it can change.
First, we need to remove the complexity from our federal tax code that has the highest marginal tax rates for business — except those with special connections and the best lobbyists who work constantly for tax deals for their clients. This crushes start-up companies and entrepreneurs that don’t have an army of lawyers and accountants but have been the engine of job growth in our economy. We need to simplify the tax code, take out the special interest breaks, and lower marginal tax rates for all Americans, so innovators and small businesses can better compete in the global marketplace.
Next, we need to reign in out-of-control federal regulators. A recent study by the National Association of Manufacturers pegs the cost of regulatory compliance at over $2 trillion per year, fully 1/6th of our entire economy. To make matters worse, these regulations are proposed and imposed by an unelected and unaccountable federal bureaucrats, and courts have ruled that many of these regulations far exceed the intent of Congress.
We must significantly limit the authority of bureaucrats. I support the passage of the REINS Act which would require Congress to vote up or down on any new regulation that has an impact on our national economy of $100 million or greater. Bureaucrats would have to justify any new regulation before it can go into effect. Our federal elected officials would be accountable for ensuring regulations reflect the intent of Congress and the people.
We need to move quickly to reform the tax and regulatory environment in America so that we can go into future trade negotiations from a position of strength and put the needs of American workers and job creators first. International trade benefits our nation if it is both free and fair trade.
If we take the appropriate action to reform our tax code, reign in federal over-regulation, and engage in trade deals that truly benefit America then we can have a renaissance in American manufacturing. It will grow our economy and make the American dream once again accessible to all.
Paul Mitchell is the former CEO of Ross Education and the Republican nominee for Michigan’s 10th Congressional District.