1. LATEST POLICY
Vice President Biden Announces New Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Innovation Hub in Rochester, New York
Vice President Biden announced that the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (RF SUNY) will lead a new Manufacturing Innovation Institute to secure U.S. leadership in manufacturing integrated photonics. These emerging technologies have the potential to transform many industries—from creating “needleless” tests for medical conditions like diabetes, to increasing the carrying capacity of broadband communications ten times over.
More: White House Release
Key Senate Committee Passes Bipartisan Bill from Coons, Roberts, Schumer to Spur Private Research and Development
The U.S. Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to allow startup companies and small businesses to access the successful Research and Development Tax Credit. The Innovators Job Creation Act would help startups and other small companies take advantage of valuable R&D tax credits that are currently unavailable to them. The legislation, led by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
More: Coons Release
One Hand Tied Behind Our Backs: Why America Must Do Much More to Curb China’s Dangerous Innovation Mercantilism
Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States later this month, please join ITIF on September 17 for an expert panel discussion exploring the ramifications of China’s economic and trade strategies and delving into potential remedies and responses.
More: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Designation of 12 New Manufacturing Communities Under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Program
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced 12 new communities that have received designations under the Obama Administration’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative. In May 2014, Secretary Pritzker announced the first 12 communities to receive the designation under this U.S. Commerce Department-led program, which is designed to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide by supporting the development of long-term economic development strategies.
More: Economic Development Administration
Pentagon Joins Silicon Valley in 'Flexible' Tech Hub
The Pentagon is building a tech hub in Silicon Valley to help create new gadgetry for the supersoldiers of the future as well as tech-savvy consumers. According to the White House, the project seeks to foster "American leadership in manufacturing technologies from smart bandages to self-monitoring weapons systems to wearable devices." It brings together the electronics industry and the high-precision printing industry in a "FlexTech Alliance" to create sensors that conform to the curves of a human body or stretch across an object or structure. The $171 million plan announced by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will get $75 million in federal funds, and bring together electronics and semiconductor companies like Applied Materials, Apple, United Technologies, Hewlett-Packard and Qualcomm with users of the technology such as Boeing, General Motors, the Cleveland Clinic, Corning and Motorola.
More: Business Insider
Senate Passes Baldwin, Kaine, Portman Career Readiness Amendment
The Senate has unanimously passed an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Rob Portman (R-OH) to help ensure students are ready for postsecondary education and the workforce. The amendment encourages states to create work-based learning opportunities through partnerships with businesses that allow students to earn industry-recognized credentials and credit for postsecondary education. By incorporating career readiness indicators into their state accountability systems, states will have the opportunity to recognize schools that are successfully preparing students for postsecondary education and the workforce through tools like technical skills training and college credits. The amendment strengthens the Career Ready Act, which was incorporated into the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 after being introduced by Baldwin, Kaine, and Portman earlier this year.
More: Baldwin Release
Booker, Gillibrand, Murray, Coons, Peters Introduce Bill to Scale-Up Investments for Small Advanced Manufacturing Businesses
U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Gary Peters (D-MI) today introduced the Scale-Up Manufacturing Investment Company (SUMIC) Act of 2015, legislation that increases access to capital for entrepreneurs looking to scale-up and commercialize their advanced manufacturing innovations. The SUMIC Act creates a program that allows private investment firms to leverage funds provided by the government to help emerging manufacturers commercialize their products. The program, modeled on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC) program, would allow approved participating investment firms to invest in securities and issue debentures to raise capital that would then be invested into emerging manufacturers’ businesses. Any fees, interest, and profits received from the debentures and securities investments would offset the costs of the program.
More: Booker Release
Reed Seeks to Extend Cost-Effective, Job-Saving Layoff Prevention Act
In an effort to ensure employers can maintain a skilled workforce, and help workers keep their jobs during a temporary business decline, U.S. Senator Jack Reed introduced the Layoff Prevention Extension Act of 2015, a bill to extend the financing and grant provisions for the successful “work sharing” law Reed authored as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. As a result of Senator Reed’s efforts, an estimated $500 million in federal funding was made available to help states adopt or expand a short-term compensation program alternative to layoffs.
More: Reed Release
Kaine Introduces Jobs Act to Expand Pell Grants for Workforce Training Programs
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, legislation that would amend the Higher Education Act by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term job training programs. Under current law, Pell Grants - needs-based grants for low-income and working students— can only be applied toward programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length, even though many job training programs are shorter term. The JOBS Act would expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality job training programs that are at least 8 weeks in length and lead to industry-recognized credentials and certificates. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 3.7 million U.S. jobs are currently vacant because of a shortage of qualified workers. The JOBS Act would address this shortage by helping workers afford the skills training and credentials that are in high-demand in today’s job market.
More: Kaine Release
Peters-Alexander-Stabenow Vehicle Innovation Act Advances in Senate
Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) advanced in the Senate today when it was included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act (VIA) promotes investments in research and development of clean vehicle and advanced safety technologies that will create more fuel-efficient vehicles, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and support American auto manufacturers.
More: Peters Release
Senate, House Leaders Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Protect Trade Secrets
Senate Judiciary Committee members Chris Coons, D-Del., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., together with Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc. and House Members Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation Wednesday to help combat the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the United States to the theft of corporate trade secrets. The Defend Trade Secrets Act would empower companies to protect their trade secrets in federal court by creating a federal private right-of-action.
More: Coons Release
2. OTHER NEWS
China's Currency Creep: The Country's Devaluation of the Yuan Poses Potential Problems for the Rest of the World, Including the U.S.
When China devalued its yuan currency by nearly 2 percent Tuesday, the country's central bank suggested it was merely a one-time adjustment that wasn't cause for greater concern. But Beijing came out swinging as the week progressed, first with a 1.6 percent cut on Wednesday followed by another 1.1 percent devaluation on Thursday, leading to China's biggest three-day currency drop in decades. The moves set the stage for international trade and currency battles and plenty of headaches for the U.S., which may get the short end of the economic stick from China's fiscal finessing
More: U.S. News and World Report
Negotiators Hope to Wrap Up Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks this Month
After a disappointing round of talks ended last week in Hawaii without resolution, negotiators of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership are hoping to meet later this month to try again to wrap up one of the world's biggest free-trade agreements.
More: LA Times
A Critique of CRS’s “U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective”
The future of the U.S. economy depends in part on the health of U.S. manufacturing. Unfortunately, over the last 15 years the U.S. manufacturing sector has declined significantly compared to those of competitor nations. In the face of this decline, congressional action is needed more than ever to reduce the effective corporate tax rate; to boost investment incentives, including for R&D; to better enforce trade rules globally; and to support manufacturing innovation and workforce development.
More: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Manufacturing Job Loss: Trade, Not Productivity, Is the Culprit
The United States lost 5 million manufacturing jobs between January 2000 and December 2014. There is a widespread misperception that rapid productivity growth is the primary cause of continuing manufacturing job losses over the past 15 years. Instead, as this report shows, job losses can be traced to growing trade deficits in manufacturing products prior to the Great Recession and then the massive output collapse during the Great Recession.
More: Economic Policy Institute
US Industrial Output Rises on Strong Auto Production
U.S. industrial production rose in July, with a strong gain in automobile manufacturing offsetting lower output from utilities, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. Industrial output increased 0.6% in July, far above the revised 0.1% gain in June. Output of motor vehicles and parts jumped 10.6%. Gains elsewhere in manufacturing rose 0.1%. The strength in autos compensated for a 1.0% drop in the index for utilities. Manufacturing, accounting for about three quarters of total industrial output, has been under pressure from tepid consumer spending and a stronger dollar weighing on exports.
More: Industry Week
A New Look at Apprenticeships as a Path to the Middle Class
With its gleaming classrooms, sports teams and even a pep squad, the Apprentice School that serves the enormous Navy shipyard here bears little resemblance to a traditional vocational education program. And that is exactly the point. While the cheerleaders may double as trainee pipe fitters, electricians and insulators, on weekends they’re no different from college students anywhere as they shout for the Apprentice School Builders on the sidelines. But instead of accumulating tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, Apprentice School students are paid an annual salary of $54,000 by the final year of the four-year program, and upon graduation are guaranteed a job with Huntington Ingalls Industries, the military contractor that owns Newport News Shipbuilding.
More: New York Times
FCA CEO, Union Agree That Two-Tier Wages Should Go
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams agree on at least one thing: getting rid of the two-tier wages for hourly workers in the company's U.S. plants. Marchionne and Williams formally opened bargaining a new four-year contract for FCA's 35,700 workers Tuesday. The current contract expires in September.