Saying that America’s experiment with offshoring a large number of jobs to help stimulate foreign trade hasn’t worked – not only that but has actually harmed the U.S. economy – Senator Jeff Merkley has convinced 93 fellow senators to begin debating his bill to bring many of those jobs back home.
It’s called the Bring Jobs Back Home Act, and is aimed at fixing a major mistake in American foreign economic policy – believing that exporting American manufacturing jobs, made possible by U.S. taxpayer subsidies, would light a fire under foreign workers and help them rise in family income so they could afford to buy more American products exported from the U.S. Senator Merkley said “It didn’t work.” In fact it caused a mostly one way conveyor belt of jobs from the U.S. to foreign countries leaving the American labor force wounded with a loss of five million good paying jobs, 50,000 of them from Oregon.” On top of that, with the technological emergence of increased manufacturing automation, the importance of old style manufacturing labor is no longer as much in demand. The net effect, he says, is that a great many family wage jobs the U.S. lost will not be returning home.
Merkley told NewsLincolnCounty.com that he has a gut feeling that despite the continuing political loggerheads in both the Senate and the House, he’s convinced that his bill has at least a good chance of eventually passing and being signed by President Obama. He said his bill addresses the country’s widespread erosion of manufacturing jobs especially, which is painfully felt in large towns and small all across the country.
In other words, it’s gotten personal right down to “Main Street USA.”
NewsLincolnCounty.com asked Senator Merkley whether he thought that the country can handle the repatriation of these jobs in light of the fact that they’ve been gone such a long time that there exists a well documented lack of highly skilled manufacturing workers – and what’s worse, those lucky enough to still have such a job are either retired or beginning to plan for retirement.
Senator Merkley said it is a story he keeps hearing as he travels around Oregon. He said he talks to many manufacturing CEO’s who tell him that there is a serious shortage of workers who are skilled in the use of sophisticated tools and machinery. Merkley said the situation has been made worse by a shift in our public schools to emphasize math and reading skills (No Child Left Behind/Core Curriculum) at the expense of what used to be called vocational education, or simply shop class. He said such skills are also missing from many of our community colleges. It means that graduates are far less prepared for the work world than they used to be. Merkley said he’s promoted and worked on a number of bills that are aimed at providing financial support for schools and colleges that still find time and space to promote student vocational and technological opportunities.
Merkley finished up the conversation by expressing a deep hope that his Bring Jobs Home Act will receive favorable treatment in both the Senate and the House. Merkley’s bill involves the end of taxpayer subsidies to American corporations who have profited from offshoring American jobs during the “grand experiment.” But his bill also provides tax incentives for those companies bringing jobs back home to struggling American families who need family wage jobs – jobs that have been slow to come back after the Wall Street crash of 2008.