“One of the best ways to create more new jobs is to boost American manufacturing,” President Obama said in his push for making things here at home. “If you can imagine it, then you can do it, whatever it is.”
Made in the United States. We thought we had kissed those sweet words goodbye when manufacturing production and investment stagnated from 2000-2010, as millions of jobs were lost to offshoring labor. Certainly times have changed, as even with an increase in manufacturing output, manufacturing jobs have not kept pace. Additionally adding to the job loss pain is the fact that for a variety of reasons, the types of jobs in manufacturing have changed, shifting toward skilled labor and management type jobs. But innovative, creative people whose goals are to reinvest in this country will always find a way to adapt. That is what the President is trying to achieve by working with the private sector and community leaders to train workers and spark new ideas.
President Obama has a vision of a “Nation of Makers”, which contrasts sharply with the Republican vision of a nation of takers. Obama’s vision involves citizens who make things in the U.S. and thereby contribute to a stronger nation.
Thus, the President proclaimed June 18, 2014 as National Day of Making. He wrote, “I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills.”
But it’s hardly just talk.
The President been working around the do-nothing Congress with the private sector and with Mayors around the country to stimulate research and development and manufacturing, which was a part of the Maker Faire today at the White House. Additionally, while we were all chasing Republican obstruction and trying to get Republicans to reopen the government they shut down in a fit of pique:
“The manufacturing sector has added 646,000 jobs since February 2010, the fastest pace of job growth since the 1990s.” Indeed, “Manufacturing output has increased 30% since the end of the recession, growing at roughly twice the pace of the economy overall, the longest period where manufacturing has outpaced U.S. economic output since 1965.” *
It’s not that Obama is magic and suddenly brought back “Made in America” with his unicorn wand of hope, but rather that he read the reports and grasped the reasons — in addition to the recession — for the shift in labor needs. Then he did something about it. He continues to work to do something about it, while Republicans obstruct his job bills and pretend that plugging the hole with 35 permanent jobs via the Keystone Pipeline is a real solution.
It will be years until the full impact of President Obama’s push for innovation and reinvestment will be felt. But if Obama keeps pushing in spite of the do-nothing Republicans in Congress, he’s building part of his legacy right in front of our eyes and we’re all missing it (much like his stimulus was packed with investments in liberal values that flew under the radar).
Boiler plate cynics knock “hope” and “rhetoric”, but without hope there is no change. Hope can lead to a vision of the way things could be. Hope leads to not accepting defeat for the middle class, but instead hunting for a new solution. When hope meets pragmatism and will, interesting things happen. President Obama continues to work diligently on long term paradigm shifts like his “Nation of Makers” idea, which will actually address the systemic job pain of the former middle class instead of just plugging the hole.
Republicans and the media are fantasizing that the Obama presidency is over; meanwhile, right under their noses, the President has found yet another way to use the power of his office toward bettering this nation.
* Statistics quoted in this paragraph came from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Department of Commerce, NIPA table and McKinsey Global Institute, Manufacturing the Future, November 2012 as quoted in a White House Fact Sheet.