Posts from Matthew McMullan

Trade War Update: More Tariffs Go Up

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

These days there’s enough happening on the Trump administration’s trade agenda that it warrants a weekly update. It’s Tuesday! And we’re gonna talk about trade!

It’s Trade Tuesday!

Last week President Trump, on the advice of his trade negotiator, further raised tariffs on Chinese imports after Chinese negotiators made sweeping revisions to agreements the U.S. side believed were settled.

Those Chinese negotiators still arrived in Washington for talks a few days later, apparently just to keep the talks going. The U.S. tariffs went up while they were still in town, and China has since retaliated with more tariffs against American imports of its own – and its state-run media outlets, which have until now been relatively quiet on the topic of the American trade dispute, are now getting involved. This editorial was featured in the Xinhua News Agency and the People’s Daily:

“The most important thing is that in the Sino-U.S. trade war, the American side fights because of greed and arrogance. If it does not brag and make up stories, the country’s morale will break. China is fighting back to protect its legitimate rights and interests.”

“… The trade war in the United States is the creation of one person and his administration who have swept along the entire population of the country. Whereas, the entire country and all the people of China are being threatened. For us, this is a real ‘people's war.’”

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Trump, Democrats Play Nice on Infrastructure

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

You’d think that President Trump and Congressional Democrats would be loathe to work together to get any kind of legislation enacted in Washington, especially as a presidential election cycle heats up. Right? That’s what I’d think, and I’m a very smart politics-knower.

But it looks like they’re going to give it a shot, though! Good on ’em!

No word from the president, who was busy after the meeting trying to influence policy at the Federal Reserve via Twitter. But that Tic-tac is a good sign. And, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, it was a “productive” meeting. And White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said as much, too.

Pelosi told reporters that they and the president agreed on two things. First, the entire package should be total $2 trillion, which is no small increase from the $200 billion Trump earmarked for infrastructure spending in his last budget proposal (the administration, for what it’s worth, claimed that $200 billion would seed an additional $800 billion in private spending).

Second, they agreed to meet again in three weeks to hear the president’s proposals for funding such a package – because, as Schumer pointed out, without Trump already on board it will be hard to move anything through the Senate.

The Democrats, in advance of their White House visit, sent a letter to the president saying any infrastructure package they would support must account for climate change, which is a priority on the left; and it must include “Buy America” provisions to keep all of this spending in the 50 states and create American manufacturing jobs, which polling shows is a priority for everybody.

You’ll recall that President Trump has signed more than one executive order regarding Buy America, which reveals that the administration understands just how popular these kinds of rules are, but does little else; the orders are more or less superficial.

“In terms of legislative policy and regulatory impact, there was none whatsoever,” Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul recently told the American Prospect. “The practical effect of what the administration has done is virtually nothing.”

Maybe it’ll be in an honest-to-god, humongous and long-overdue infrastructure package that the president finally gets serious about Buy America? Time will tell. 

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Reposted from AAM

New National Poll: We Want Infrastructure, and We Want it American-made

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

What do Americans agree on?

Not much, man! They don’t agree on what’s the best place to get a sandwich or where to live (to settle this debate: the best place to get a sandwich is actually here, everybody). But they doagree that it’s a good idea to avoid talking politics over Thanksgiving dinner.

They also agree on this: A new poll shows that basically everybody, regardless of political affiliation, thinks the federal government should put a boatload of money into infrastructure projects and they should attach Buy America procurement policies to those dollars. Buy America rules get the support of 80 percent of us, the poll found, while only 15 percent of respondents oppose them.

It’s true. While President Trump – the same guy from this commercial – and congressional Democrats wrestle over the release of his tax returns the rest of us, according to the bipartisan poll conducted by Mark Mellman and Bill McInturff, would rather they prioritize infrastructure spending. According to the poll, we want it more than a lot of other policy proposals.

It’s pretty remarkable, and it isn’t anything new; every year polling returns similar results. Here's 201820172016, and 2015. And this consistent popularity isn’t lost on politicians. The president, for example, is down in Texas today to show off a couple of executive orders that are meant to fast-track energy infrastructure development.

O.K., Mr. President, that’s some good politicking … But voters want that infrastructure to be American-made, by American workers, so that the economic benefits from federal spending stay in American communities. And the last couple of executive orders the president has already rolled around on these very topics – building out energy infrastructure and making more federal spending American-made – have been all bark and no bite. They haven’t gone anywhere!

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The Lordstown Workers Gave Up a Lot in an Attempt to Save Their Plant

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

A couple of weeks ago President Trump offered a helpful tweet to the autoworkers in Lordstown, Ohio, who had just lost their jobs after GM shut down their plant.

April Fools! It wasn’t helpful at all. The president just told the United Autoworkers local president, who represents a bunch of Ohio residents who are now weighing uprooting their lives and moving to a new GM facility against unemployment, to stop complaining:

Way to go, Mr. President! He’s just tellin’ it like it is, on Twitter. He tends to say stuff like thisabout unions whenever he catches heat (on a TV channel he watches) from a union leader for not following through on his specific promises to save American manufacturing jobs. A common suggestion is to “lower dues,” as if organized labor hasn’t done anything to keep production in unionized plants.   

Well, organized labor isn’t a monolith and not all unions operate in the same way, but the United Autoworkers in Lordstown were very accommodating to GM in their last round of contract negotiations before the company shuttered the plant. They were agreeing to what the company called a “super competitive operating agreement” in an attempt to ward off layoffs … which came anyway.

Seriously, just read some of this stuff from Bloomberg:

To cut costs, the UAW merged Locals 1112 and 1714, which saved the company $3 million a year in administrative costs. Then the union agreed to outsource non-assembly jobs like handling of parts and materials to lower-wage workers employed by a subsidiary called GM Subsystems LLC, according to a document reviewed by Bloomberg.

Next, they allowed GM to cut the number of skilled tradesmen including electricians, pipe fitters, mechanics and die makers in half to 130 by letting the company contract out for overtime skilled-trade work and by changing job classifications, said Scott Brubaker, who was chairman of Local 1714.

The union allowed outside firms to send in contractors to repair supplier parts and assembled vehicles at the plant. It also agreed to drop the number of extra workers employed to cover absentee workers to 60, from 150.

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Trade Committee Gets an Earful on Workers’ Rights in the USMCA

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The USMCA – the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement, the trade deal that will serve as an update to NAFTA – has been signed by the heads of government of those three countries.  

But the deal was negotiated before the U.S. midterm elections in November when Democrats took control of the House. And Congress has to ratify trade deals that the United States will be a party to before they can take effect. And the president and congressional Democrats don’t often get along! This could become a problem for the White House.

Enter President Trump, most famous before winning the 2016 U.S. presidential election for his supporting role in the 2002 romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice, who is now getting involvedin whipping votes for the deal. The president is gonna rely heavily on his boys, the House Republicans, to move it. But even if he gets every GOP vote, it will still require Democratic support to gain a majority.

And yet that Democratic support is no sure thing. To begin, the deal will only get a vote in the House if Speaker Nancy Pelosi allows one. Bloomberg reports:

Pelosi is expected to only move the deal through the House if she can find a critical mass of her caucus supporting it and if she extracts concessions unrelated to trade from the White House in return, senior congressional aides say.

The administration is trying to build that critical mass. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, President Trump’s chief trade negotiator, has spent time on Capitol Hill meeting with House Democrats to try to assuage their concerns about the deal – particularly its provisions on the environment, pharmaceutical drug prices, enforcement and labor.

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President Trump has Noticed the Lordstown Closure

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio closed a few weeks ago. This has put a lot of American autoworkers out of a job, and – should the plant remain shuttered – it’ll have a serious effect on economy in northeast Ohio no matter what President Trump tweets about it.

And oh, was he tweeting about it in the last 24 hours. To be fair, he also tweeted about the Mueller investigation, and did some light scaremongering about MS-13, but on Sunday the president clearly had Lordstown on his mind.

This is, after all, an issue near and dear to his heart. He was elected in states like Ohio largely on his promises to bring manufacturing jobs back, and he often got very specific about it. In Youngstown (just up the road from Lordstown) during the 2016 presidential campaign, he basically promised to save local industry:

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News Report: Currency on the Table in the U.S.-China Trade Talks

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The U.S.-China trade talks continue. There’s a deadline coming up on March 1, when the trade-war timeout is due to end, and U.S. tariffs are to shoot up from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese products.

President Trump, meanwhile, is starting to float the idea that March 1 isn’t a hard date … which suggests there’s progress being made toward a larger deal. It could also be problematic; the president’s chief negotiator, for instance, doesn’t think giving up this key piece of leverage is a great idea.

But! Another bit of news has leaked out: The two sides are working out an agreement that would govern currency manipulation. Bloomberg reports:

The U.S. is asking China to keep the value of the yuan stable as part of trade negotiations between the world’s two largest economies, a move aimed at neutralizing any effort by Beijing to devalue its currency to counter American tariffs, people familiar with the ongoing talks said.

Currency manipulation has been an American trade complaint against China for years, and some have argued that a deal that doesn’t include a currency rule will ultimately prove to be a disappointment.

Well, it looks like it's still on the table. So I guess it's just like the most talkative president in decades says:

"We are asking for everything that anyone has ever suggested. These are not just 'let's sell corn or let's do this' – it's going to be selling corn but a lot of it – a lot more than anyone thought possible."

 

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Reposted from AAM

Which Was AAM’s Favorite Super Bowl Ad?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Big news outta Atlanta: They had a Super Bowl and the New England Patriots won, again.

Maybe you tuned in for the defensive gamesmanship, but come on: I know you didn’t. You weren’t at that Super Bowl party to watch Bill Belichick raise another trophy. You were there for the food …

… and the commercials. That’s what I tuned in for, at least. But not one of those weird, creepy ones, like that ad from Turbo Tax. I really focused in on this one from Kia.

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Why Are U.S.-China Trade Talks a Big Deal? Consider The Case of Micron.

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Trump administration is hosting a high-level delegation from the Chinese government for trade negotiations this week. The administration, acting on the results of a U.S. Trade Representative report into widespread allegations of intellectual property theft, has leveled 10 percent tariffs on a broad list of imports from China, and 25 percent tariffs on imports of machinery, semiconductors, and other tech products. And if substantial progress isn’t made during these talks, more tariffs will go up on March 2. As Reuters describes it, those additional tariffs will essentially cover all of China’s exports to the United States.

That’s a big deal if they do – but so is IP theft, which American companies complain is a chronic problem when doing business with or in China. A lot of money gets sunk into R&D, and losing your proprietary information to a rival vying for dominance in your industry sticks in the craws of a lot of American business executives.

There was a big, public example of this that unspooled last year, just as the Trump administration was laying out its IP case against China: the case of Micron, an Idaho-based semiconductor manufacturer that in June sued a state-owned (SOE) Chinese competitor and a Taiwanese company. Micron claims the former hired the latter to poach Micron engineers working in Taiwan and encouraged them to take Micron’s IP with them on their way out the door. It would then be passed to the Chinese SOE.

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What’s Going On With GM?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

In 2017, Congressional Republicans passed and President Trump signed what the Washington Post described as “the most significant overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years.”

 
Paul Ryan@SpeakerRyan
 

When I was chair of @HouseBudgetGOP, we began to change the debate with the Roadmap for America’s Future. Now, all these years later, those early ideas of tax reform have become law and hundreds of millions of Americans are better for it.

Less than a year later, a flagship American corporation, General Motors -- proud recipent of approximately $50 billion in federal assistance after the Great Recession -- took its reduced corporate tax rate and announced plant closures in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Lots of layoffs. If only we had seen it coming! 

 
NowThis@nowthisnews
 

This tax expert warned Congress that the GOP tax bill could lead to outsourcing. GM just announced more than 14,000 U.S. layoffs

Oh man! Maybe the president should have read that tax bill he signed a little more closely.

Anyway: After GM caught a ton of heat for its downsizing plans it deigned to offer laid-off workers the opportunity to move into other positions at factories elsewhere.

Mary Barra@mtbarra
 

I understand how GM’s recent news is affecting our colleagues, families and communities. Our focus remains on helping employees…

But the United Autoworkers, which represents workers in GM factories, is claiming the company is instead filling those positions with temps. That's a savvy business move by GM; you don’t have to extend to temps benefits like health insurance.

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Union Matters

PRO Act Would Put Power Back in Workers’ Hands

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

Between 1935 and 1965, union membership rose precipitously in the United States. Wages increased in tandem with productivity, benefits improved, the middle class blossomed and income inequality dwindled.

Those good times are over, however. After 1965, the rate of unionization steadily fell from the high of about 30 percent to 10.5 percent now. Wages stagnated after 1970, even as productivity increased. Income inequality rose to Gilded Age rates.

This was no accident. It was a result of a calculated campaign launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and financially fed by corporations and right wing billionaires. They secured appointment of conservative, anti-union judges who ruled against unions. They bankrolled right-wing political candidates who passed anti-union legislation. And they subsidized anti-union organizations that taught corporations how to skirt the law and twist workers’ arms to defeat union organization efforts at workplaces.

Now, however, Democrats in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have introduced legislation intended to reverse the union slide by restoring workers’ rights. 

The Protecting the Right to Work (PRO) Act, introduced on May 2, would make it easier for workers to form unions and would more effectively punish employers that violate the rights of workers trying to organize.

The proposed law would facilitate unionization, which Democrats believe would raise workers’ wages and reduce income inequality. Union workers earn about 13 percent more than nonunion workers and receive better benefits and pensions.

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The Richest Fantasy

The Richest Fantasy