Whitehouse Urges Obama Administration to Support RI Manufacturing Plan
Washington, DC – Continuing his efforts to boost manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today wrote to the Obama Administration to enlist the president’s support for his “Making It in Rhode Island” plan. In a letter to Ron Bloom, Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy, Whitehouse shared the concerns he has heard from Rhode Island manufacturers about unfair foreign competition and presented his plan to keep jobs in America.
“In recent weeks, I’ve toured a number of Rhode Island manufacturing companies from a soda pop maker in Providence to a high-tech plastics company in Cranston and a military uniforms supplier in Pawtucket,” Whitehouse wrote. “Despite the variety of their products, the owners and workers at these companies had strikingly similar sets of concerns: access to capital, unfair competition from abroad, and difficulty weathering the current economic downturn.”
Whitehouse’s “Making It in Rhode Island” plan contains a number of proposals to help local manufacturers – from leveling the playing field with foreign competitors to providing access to capital. In January, he introduced the Offshoring Prevention Act, which would end a tax provision that rewards companies for moving factories overseas.
The full text of the letter is below.
March 8, 2011
Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy
Executive Office of the President
736 Jackson Place, NW
Washington, DC 20006
In recent weeks, I’ve toured a number of Rhode Island manufacturing companies from a soda pop maker in Providence to a high-tech plastics company in Cranston and a military uniforms supplier in Pawtucket. Despite the variety of their products, the owners and workers at these companies had strikingly similar sets of concerns: access to capital, unfair competition from abroad, and difficulty weathering the current economic downturn.
I write to share these concerns with you and also to pass along the attached documents: a list of businesses I’ve visited to discuss these issues and a legislative plan which I call my “Making It in Rhode Island” plan. The plan includes bills and programs that I plan to support in the new Congress. The first item on the list is my Offshoring Prevention Act (S. 45) which would end a costly tax loophole that permits companies that manufacture goods abroad for sale in the U.S. to defer the payment of income taxes on related profits. In addition to discouraging the offshoring of American jobs, S. 45 would also help to close the budget deficit. The Joint Committee on taxation has estimated that it would raise $19.5 billion in revenue over ten years.
One frustration that I’ve heard over and over again from Rhode Island business owners is unfair competition from China. In particular, China’s artificial deflation of its currency makes American goods relatively more expensive to Chinese ones. While diplomatic efforts have led China to appreciate its currency somewhat, many experts believe that it is still significantly undervalued. With that in mind, I’m working with Senators Schumer and Brown (OH) on legislation to strengthen our hand in dealing with China.
In addition to leveling the playing field, the Rhode Island companies need greater support to expand and evolve. The SBA fee waiver program included in the Recovery Act helped thousands of businesses obtain access to capital, and I plan to work to resurrect the program. As we gear up for budget season, I’m also working to preserve funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which through its local affiliate RIMES, has helped to create thousands of jobs in my state. I was glad to see President Obama call for an increase in funding for the Partnership in his budget, and I will support that proposal as the Budget Committee works to produce a final product.
Finally, as you may recall from our discussions last year, I have been working on legislation to create a feasible process in bankruptcy for smaller companies to reorganize and preserve jobs. I’ve reached out to Republicans on reworking my Small Business Jobs Preservation Act (S. 3675 from the previous Congress), and I ask you to consider engaging the Administration in the project. Bankruptcy reform has the potential to save a large number of jobs at zero cost to the taxpayers.
Thank you for taking the time to review my “Making It in Rhode Island” agenda, and I look forward to discussing it with you when we next meet.
United States Senator
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