This week, families across New Hampshire will have come together to celebrate our nation’s birthday and honor the freedoms that make America great. President Franklin Roosevelt named four of them: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
For many Granite Staters, it is an unfortunate truth that the last two are still out of reach. These days, it is hard to drive through the once-great milltowns of Nashua and Manchester and not notice the mills still standing against the skyline. Just half a century ago, the Merrimack Valley was an industrial powerhouse, producing textile, leather and shoes. Now those mills have closed or been converted into other space because of increased competition from foreign firms – and the good family-supporting jobs they sustained are gone with them.
These mill closings are not an isolated incident. We have lost more manufacturing jobs over the last decade than during the Great Depression. The closure of more than 50,000 manufacturing facilities, the loss of nearly 6 million manufacturing jobs and chronic trade deficits are all troubling signs of our nation’s diminished industrial and innovative capability.
It is not just manufacturing jobs that have been shipped overseas—our service economy threatens to be next. Workers from call centers, professional services and aircraft maintenance as well as computer engineers, administrative services, health care and more have seen their jobs leave. A 2009 study by economists Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger estimated that one in four U.S. jobs is vulnerable to offshoring.
Despite this growing trend, outsourcing is not inevitable, nor is it unstoppable. Unfortunately, in the United States, our economic policies are stacked in favor of corporations and the wealthiest 1% rather than the 99% of working families. According to the Federal Reserve Board’s survey of consumer finances, working Americans under the age of 44 saw their incomes decline 14% in the last decade.
To ensure we reward companies for doing the right thing for our workers and for our economy, we need to put a stop to the policies that encourage businesses to ship good jobs overseas. Right now, corporations can avoid paying any taxes at all when they move production overseas. That isn’t right.
After the Fourth of July recess, Congress has the opportunity to address one particularly outrageous tax policy. The tax code currently allows companies moving operations overseas to deduct their moving expenses—and reduce their taxes in the United States as a result.
Someone should explain to me why we give tax breaks for companies that offshore jobs while millions of families in the United States struggle to find work.
The Bring Jobs Home Act can help change this by eliminating the tax deduction for moving expenses while rewarding businesses that bring good jobs back to the United States with a tax credit. By supporting the Bring Jobs Home Act (S. 2884), and its companion bill in the House (H.R. 5542), congressional leaders can take a good first step toward a more comprehensive plan to stop incentives for offshoring, reorient our economic policies to make the economy work for working people and reform our dangerously lopsided tax policies.
In New Hampshire, we can do our part too, by shining a light on companies that receive taxpayer dollars through state contracts or economic development assistance, prohibiting taxpayer dollars from going to companies that ship work offshore, and ensuring that state tax dollars are used to buy goods and services made in America.
More and more we hear that our country is at a crossroads. We face choices about the environment and the management of nonrenewable natural resources. We face decisions about the kinds of laws and policies that shape our economy, education and health care.
These choices come down to a single question: What is our vision? Do we want to keep our competitive edge and have the best-trained workers, or do we want to fall behind as companies move overseas and leave millions of Americans unemployed?
As we prepare to celebrate all the very best of America this Fourth of July, let’s remind our elected officials to do the same by supporting the Bring Jobs Home measures in the Senate and the House as well as other economic policies to create jobs and rebuild our county.
Nothing is more American than creating an economy that works for all.
(also posted in the Nashua Telegraph)