Politics
President Barack Obama tours the manufacturing facilities of Cree, a leading manufacturer of energy-efficient LED lighting, with Chuck Swoboda, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Cree, Monday, June 13, 2011, in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) President Barack Obama tours the manufacturing facilities of Cree, a leading manufacturer of energy-efficient LED lighting, with Chuck Swoboda, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Cree, Monday, June 13, 2011, in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)  

White House struggles to woo wary manufacturers

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The White House’s effort to aid and ally with the U.S. manufacturing sector is being stymied by its other political priorities and by its 2012 campaign plans.

In recent months and weeks, the administration has yanked pending regulation of companies’ factory boilers and power-companies’ emissions of carbon-dioxide.

President Barack Obama has appointed a few manufacturing-sector CEOs to his advisory council on jobs, and has made high-visibility trips to an auto-factory in Ohio, a lighting-factory in North Carolina, as well as a training center in Northern Virginia, where he lauded the sector’s contribution to the economy.

But the sector’s output is still stalled and its executives are mostly hostile to administration priorities.

Manufacturing lost 5,000 jobs in May because of the sour economy, three pending free-trade agreements are stalled by new White House objections, the manufacturers are facing higher bills for energy and raw materials, and the companies’ executives are worried about a wave of federal regulations, said Chad Moutray, the chief economist of the National Association of Manufacturers.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “are busy turning out regulations left and right that are causing a lot of uncertainty and angst in this community,” he said.

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“There is a frustration that is growing within the business community,” said an industry advocate. “They’re saying ‘you’re killing us here,’” he said.

But the senior executives do not want to publicly criticize the administration, he added.

Overseas markets, however, are boosting manufacturers’ optimism, said Moutray. In a recent survey of members, 86 percent of respondents said the coming year will be somewhat or very favorable, he said.

“This is the highest it been in five years … we’re up to where we were in the mid 2000s,” he said, adding that the sector has added 243,000 jobs since December 2009. The dollar’s decline, and growth in overseas economies, is fueling this increase in exports.

That optimism is countered, however, by the sector’s job loses — down 2.3 million jobs from 2009 — and by other companies’ worries about the domestic U.S. market.

The National Federation of Independent Business runs its own survey members, and their confidence declined slight for the third month in a row.

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“Corporate profits may be at a record high, but businesses on Main Street are still scraping by,” said a statement by NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg.

Only five percent of respondents believe it is good time to invest in expansion, said the NFIB survey.

That stalled economy has pushed Obama’s poll-ratings down and U.S. unemployment up to 9.1 percent. Many additional people are underemployed or have dropped out off the workforce, making it difficult for Obama to win swing-states, such as Ohio, in 2012.

But Obama can’t easily boost the manufacturing sector without hurting core members of his coalition. His meetings, trips and talks with industry leaders don’t provoke much opposition, and his multi-billion dollar aid program to General Motors and Chrysler has earned him much support from the auto-unions and many auto-workers.

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  • hedge685

    The community organizer in chief has shown himself to be clueless when it comes to the engine that runs the US economy…and Immelt slobbering his knob does nothing to improve that situation. Manufacturing CEO’s are going to sit on the sidelines until the situation improves and some of the regulation shackles are rolled back…EPA, NLRB, and Obamacare to name a few.

    The hubris that Obama thinks he can convince anyone of anything just by giving a speech will see him into the dustbin of history with Jimmy Carter.

    • Hollywood4Cain

      We need a REAL business man and conservative to lead us out of the disaster we’re in. Don’t underestimate the Cain Train, friends. Although the other night’s debate didn’t allow him to shine, Herman Cain’s star is still rising and I think Americans will like what they hear as they get to know him better. He’s a proven business success and America is desperate for a change of course, before Obama ruins us.

      Check out this short video that pits a hopelessly out of his league Obama against Herman Cain as they articulate alternate thoughts on the economic disaster we’re in. Barack Obama’s worst nightmare, indeed!

      http://www.youtube.com/user/Hollywood4Cain?#p/a/u/0/RuZ0NGKpx2c

  • lukuj

    If these manufacturers actually believe him and trust him, they deserve what they get from him if he is re-elected – more of the anti-business, anti-manufacturing climate. Ask Boeing how manufacturing-friendly this administration is.I didn’t hear Obama condemning the decision to ban Boeing from moving a plant to a right-to-work state. Did anyone else?

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  • emem

    The truth is out – Obama is a wolf in sheeps clothing with a trail of debris following him.

  • HardRightTurn

    Maybe if he gives them all exemptions from Obamacare they will stop laying off workers to get below the employee count to avoid being put out of business.

  • ladylove

    what Obama lacks in brains, he certainly makes up for with nerve.

    imagine blaming the manufacturing business, along with WE THE PEOPLE, for the economy, then begging, and make no mistake he is begging, for them to vote for him.

    like I said, that takes a lot of nerve, a whole lot of nerve.

    I wish that just one of these “manufacturers, , would turn the tables on Obama, and show him for the jerk he really is. it would only take one of them, to start the ball rolling, and the rest would follow.

  • dookhh

    It’s a strange thing to the president perhaps, but the bully that beats the hell out of the kid and takes his lunch money, rarely gets a Christmas card from the kid he beat up. Stop me if I’m going too fast……

    • rainmaker1145

      You’re going too fast. World socialism requires time to work. Just ask the Russians and the Chinese. The Russians did a trial that only lasted 72 years and the Chinese lasted less than that. We need to try it for 100 years to see if there is a living liberal Messiah who can finally make it work. Liberal-progressives call this, the “100 year economy”. It means there will be prosperity for all once every 100 years under socialism.

      • dookhh

        Perhaps we could peacefully split the US into two halves, force all progressives into one half(I guess they would call this Utopia) and let all of us conservatives live in the other half. I don’t care how we split it- north/south, east/west whatever, I would gladly liquidate all and move if I had to. And we would secure our border with them so that when the horde woke up, they couldn’t just come to our side – we wouldn’t even allow them to immigrate, period. It wouldn’t matter anyway because utopia would be broke and in chaos in, let’s just say a very little time. They could have their 100 year try, anyway…. But they could pass all those great things they want- universal health care(wouldn’t matter all the doctors would flock to our side) Make all drugs legal(one of the reasons we need the wall) environmental police state(there go all the businesses and jobs) 95% tax on the wealthy(wonder where they would go?) All firearms illegal(we’ll buy them) ….
        works for me…

  • T2

    Well, what do you expect from a guy who believes money grows on trees? What a complete waste of space.

  • thephranc

    ‘Hi I’m actively hurting your company by my economic illiteracy now be my friend.’

    Thats the gist I’m getting from this fraud.