With tax reform about to cross the finish line, this has been an incredible and history-making year for manufacturers in America. In 2016, our country lost about 16,000 manufacturing jobs. This year, manufacturers have added on average almost 16,000 manufacturing jobs each month. That’s a dramatic turnaround. But an even more impressive change has been in manufacturers’ attitudes.
In the quarterly Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey of the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) membership, respondents this year have consistently reported levels of optimism unseen in the survey’s 20-year history. In the fourth quarter, 94.6 percent of manufacturers felt positive about their companies’ outlook. Across 2017, that level of optimism has averaged 91.8 percent, compared to 64.3 percent in 2016.
What’s behind this change? Above all, manufacturers know that our leaders in Washington, from the White House to Congress, have listened to the American people and made manufacturing a priority. And so, instead of hurting American manufacturing workers with new rules and regulations, they are lifting the weight from our shoulders. Manufacturers are also optimistic about what’s to come as Congress is one the verge of achieving that biggest manufacturing goal of all: tax reform that benefits our workers.
For years, decades really, manufacturers have sounded the alarm that the U.S. tax code disadvantages American manufacturing workers and gives foreign countries a competitive edge. Other countries have done what the United States has not: lowered their tax rates and reformed their tax systems. And now, manufacturers in America face the highest statutory corporate tax rate among developed nations, while America’s small manufacturers also face high, uncompetitive rates. This has allowed other countries to win out on business deals, become more attractive places to do business and take job opportunities from American families.
But all of that is about to change when the tax reform bill gets to President Donald Trump’s desk and is signed into law. According to manufacturers in the NAM survey, tax reform would be a huge boost for manufacturing job creation and investment in America. Nearly 63 percent of those surveyed said they would encourage their companies to spend more on things like equipment and facilities, and nearly 58 percent would expand their businesses. Notably, nearly 54 percent would hire more workers, and nearly half (49 percent) would increase employee wages and benefits.
Certainly, there has been plenty of debate of the tax bills in Congress, but what lawmaker could look at those numbers and still want to throw away this opportunity? Those who voted for tax reform voted for American manufacturing workers — as well as the men and women who will have the chance to secure rewarding, well-paying manufacturing jobs for the first time.
American workers will soon have the chance to see more take-home pay and bigger paychecks, which will allow families to save for the future, improve their financial security and plan for retirement.
It has been more than three decades since Americans saw major tax reform. Change is long overdue, and the current system is simply unacceptable if the United States hopes to be an economic leader throughout the 21st century. These reforms will allow us to build on the momentum we’ve witnessed in 2017 and take our economy to even greater heights.
We are ready to build the future. We just need a tax system that is no longer stuck in the past. Soon we will have it.
Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and chairman of the board of The Manufacturing Institute.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.