03.30.11

Sheldon Introduces Amendment to Keep Jobs in America

Mr. WHITEHOUSE.  Thank you, Mr./Madam President.  As we continue to debate important small business legislation, I rise today to introduce an amendment to further support investment and job creation in U.S. companies.   

In particular, my amendment would bolster our domestic manufacturing industry, which has historically been the engine of growth for the American economy.  The manufacturing economy has been especially important in the industrial Northeast, including my state of Rhode Island.  From the Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket – one of the first water-powered textile mills in the nation – to modern submarine production at Quonset Point, the manufacturing sector has always been central to our economy.    

Sadly, as American companies have faced rising production costs and increased – and often unfair – competition from foreign firms, U.S. production has plummeted.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of manufacturing jobs declined by almost a third over the past decade from 17.2 million in 2000 to 11.7 million in 2010.  This decline has been felt most sharply in old manufacturing centers like Rhode Island.  In Rhode Island, the loss of manufacturing jobs over the past decade has topped 44%.  The decline of the manufacturing sector is a primary reason why Rhode Island has had greater difficulty than most states in recovering from the recent recession.             

Over and over, I’ve travelled around Rhode Island to meet with local manufacturers, listening to their frustrations and discussing ideas to help their businesses grow.  During these visits I’ve heard one theme over and over again: unfair foreign competition is killing domestic industries.  One Pawtucket manufacturer told me that they recently lost eight percent of their business to a Chinese competitor.  It’s clear to me that if we want to keep manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island, we need to level the playing field with foreign competitors.

My amendment would remove one incentive to move jobs offshore and help to make competition fairer for companies struggling to keep their factory doors open here in the United States.  Based on the Offshoring Prevention Act, cosponsored by Senators Leahy, Sanders, Boxer, Durbin, Brown (OH), Harkin, Johnson, and Levin, my amendment would end a costly tax incentive that rewards companies for shipping jobs overseas.  Under current law, an American company that manufactures goods in Rhode Island or [chair’s state] must pay federal income taxes on profits in the year that the profits are earned.  But if that same company moves its factory to other country, however, it is permitted to defer the payment of income taxes, and declare them in a year that is more advantageous – for example, one in which the company has offsetting losses. 

It makes no sense that our tax code allows companies to delay paying income taxes on profits made through overseas subsidiaries, and my bill will put a stop to this practice for profits earned on manufactured goods exported to the United States.  To put it simply, we should not reward companies for eliminating American jobs.

In addition to ending an incentive to ship jobs overseas, my amendment would reduce the federal deficit by $19.5 billion over the next decade.  At a time when Republicans are promoting painful cuts to popular federal programs to save similar amounts, these are savings we cannot afford to pass up.  If we are going to be serious and fair about deficit reduction, we need to look at these corporate loopholes and giveaways, not just at cuts to Head Start, NPR, and Planned Parenthood.

I hope that my colleagues will show their support for American jobs and for deficit reduction by supporting my amendment.  I thank the chair and I yield the floor.   

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