This year’s event saw 16 FIA members from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Texas and California gather to carry the message to policymakers. Beginning with a dinner on April 15, where Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) spoke to the group, and continuing throughout the day on April 16, the forging industry was out in force to urge lawmakers to enact sensible policies that benefit manufacturing.
When the dust settled, Lobby Day attendees had visited 30 Senate and House offices (including 14 where they met with the member of Congress directly), five key committees that deal with issues of concern to the industry and the co-chairs of the House Manufacturing Caucus (Reps. Tim Ryan, D-OH and Tom Reed, R-NY).
Here’s what policymakers heard from FIA members on three key issues.
Comprehensive Tax Reform
FIA supports the basic goals set forth by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) of lowering the top rate for all taxpayers to no more than 25% while broadening the overall tax base to maintain current revenue levels and moving to a territorial system of taxation for companies with international operations. That support, however, is based on the assumption that all manufacturers will be treated alike under the new system.
That’s because many U.S. forging companies are small- or medium-sized enterprises (56%) often family-owned or closely held, so taxes are paid by their owners at individual rates. This means that lowering only the corporate rate would not help more than half of U.S. forgers.
FIA members are in a unique position in the energy supply chain. As a result, FIA supports an “all-of-the-above” energy policy. Forgers are major suppliers to every sector of the energy market, from oil and gas to wind power to shale extraction and pipelines to nuclear reactors. At the same time, most forgers use natural gas or electric furnaces to make their parts, and no alternative technologies are available. Therefore, forgers require adequate, affordable supplies of natural gas and electricity to make critical parts for nearly every industry sector.
Finally, opportunities such as shale-gas extraction and the Keystone Pipeline extension in the U.S. occur once in a generation, and U.S. policies should not erect artificial regulatory barriers to these energy sources. Developed safely, these projects will continue to fuel a U.S. manufacturing renaissance.
FIA believes that direct federal government involvement in job-skills training is often redundant, poorly focused and inefficient. Instead, FIA supports better coordination among educators, government and the private sector to recruit employees into manufacturing and provide them the K-12 foundation and job training to fill high-skill positions. Such efforts must be employer-focused, demand-driven workforce development programs that meet the needs of manufacturers and combine vocational training with on-the-job training programs.
As a first step in reforming superfluous and wasteful Workforce Investment Act programs, FIA supports HR 803, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act. HR 803 would eliminate many ineffective employment and training programs, streamline others and create a Workforce Investment Fund to serve as a single source of support for employers, workers and job seekers. It would also strengthen the role of employers in workforce training decisions by eliminating 19 federal mandates governing workforce investment board representation. HR 803 has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.
FIA’s Annual Lobby Day has become a significant part of the overall effort to educate members of Congress about the forging industry, its role as a basic building block of U.S. manufacturing and issues of concern to the industry. Building on the foundation laid by each past event, this year’s affair expanded the forging industry’s presence in Washington and enhanced its ability to influence key public-policy issues of concern to forgers.
Laurin M. Baker, Founder & President • The Laurin Baker Group, LLC. Washington, D.C. • FIA Washington Representatives 202-393-8525 • firstname.lastname@example.org