U.S. Rep Dan Lipinski Offers Proposal to Revitalize Middle Class Jobs

Saint Xavier University economics professor gives the plan a favorable review. It addresses the nation's infrastructure, manufacturing, education and innovation needs, while casting a critical eye on certain trade partners.

In the wake of disappointing national unemployment reports, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-D) has unveiled a proposal that is intended to create jobs primarily in America’s manufacturing, construction and transportation sectors.

“This has been a problem not just since the recession officially began a couple years ago, but I've seen this as an issue for the middle class for the past decade,” Lipinski said by phone from Washington, D.C. “I think there's a general concern among a lot of people, and I especially hear this in my district: 'Where are the jobs going to come from in the future?'”

To help revitalize middle class jobs, the proposal addresses the nation’s infrastructure, manufacturing, education and technological needs, while casting a critical eye on certain trade partners.

Atop the congressman’s list of ideas is the National Manufacturing Strategy Act (HR 1366), a bill he sponsored. If approved, President Barack Obama would be assigned with creating a nonpartisan board consisting of public and private sector professionals who make strategic manufacturing recommendations for governments, private companies, universities and industry associations, with a particular eye on nanotechnology innovations.

“I think America doesn't stand up for American workers,” Lipinski said.

In late June state lawmakers redrew congressional district boundaries. Lipinski , as well as several western and southwestern Chicago suburbs where many manufacturing companies reside.

Faisal Rahman, a professor of economics at Saint Xavier University’s Graham School of Management, gave Lipinski’s plan a favorable review. He said the United States needs to create about 125,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with the increases in the labor force. Last month, employers only added 18,000 jobs to their payrolls

"I think he's right on the nose,” Rahman said of Lipinski. “Our approach to solving the job crisis has to be aimed at not only our internal situation but our external relationships."

Lipinski said the United States could never enjoy a truly free market so long as countries like China continue to dump their products on American soil and manipulate currency exchange rates. He points to Germany as the beacon of a “robust economy” with free trade and high wages, made possible by a strong government-sponsored manufacturing strategy.

Rahman concurred, noting that "even though we are largely a service economy, I think a manufacturing base is important for a country to be a long-term industrial power."

With an eye on the hundreds of billions of dollars that the federal government spends each year on goods and services, Lipinski is also interested in closing loopholes that allow federal departments to evade “Buy American” mandates. Just last week the congressman signed legislation which challenged Obama for giving Mexican truckers free access into this country.

Lipinski contends that if China stopped devaluing its currency an estimated 500,000 to 2.25 million American jobs would be created to pick up the demand, but admits that “no one can have firm numbers on this.” By purchasing large amounts of American securities — to keep the exchange rate in their favor — the Chinese are among the top financiers of this nation’s debt, enabling Congress to continue spending while avoiding tax hikes.

To ease the nation's debt while funding recovery, Lipinski’s proposal mixes spending, government loans and incentives for private industry investment, because, he said, “It sometimes takes help from the government to get businesses off the ground and get businesses started."

To do that, he’s asking to double the financing for the Export-Import Bank, double the funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, establish a National Infrastructure Bank, improve training programs for customs agents and unemployed workers, and modernize air traffic control and railroad systems. From the latter project, $133 million has already been set aside to reduce delays on Metra’s Rock Island District and Southwest Service lines and another $20 million for an underpass at 71st Street in Bridgeview.

“In this environment it is very difficult to…get funding for new programs or additional funding for current programs,” Lipinski said. “But I think it's important that we look at agencies, programs that do have a track record of success. And sometimes you have to invest in order to have a bigger payoff down the road.”

As a percentage of GDP, Rahman said, America’s debt is considerably less than most nations. If there’s a silver lining to the “highly political and slightly silly” debt ceiling debates in Congress, Rahman added, it’s that lawmakers will have a better idea about which expenses are profligate and which are important.

A pdf of U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski’s proposal is available above or on his website for closer inspection.

Jesse Marx July 18, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Rusty, Thanks for the interest. Just to be clear (judging from the tone of your last sentence), Lipinski says the members of the strategic manufacturing board would not be paid for their time. It would be a volunteer advisory position, not a desk job. But another congressman or senator could always add an amendment stating otherwise. We'll just have to wait and see.
Mary Kay Barton July 18, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Sounds like a plan
Thomas July 18, 2011 at 11:39 PM
Kudos to Congressman Lipinski, at lease someone in Washington is trying to create jobs for the dying middle class in this country. Those austerity proposals will kill economic growth in the short and long term. As for continuing the Bush era tax brakes, I hope someone in Washington like Lipinski would say "Hey lets do this a bit different this time, lets put some stipulations on those receiving those tax's brakes the so called "Job Creators" (Even though during the last 10-years of those cuts, we've experienced the worst job creation period in the past 50-years) that if you take those cuts you need to pledge how many jobs you'll create, and if you don't produce those jobs, you'll need to pay the tax brake back with penalty" Lets see how many of those so called job creators will take the cuts. No more stashing that tax brake money away, and not investing in the U.S. economy. As of today $3T is sitting on the side lines. In addition, where is our new Senator Mark Kirk and what has he been doing to create jobs? All you’ll hear from him these day's is talk about cutting spending and reducing taxes for the wealthiest 2%. He’s spouting the Tea Party mantra. He needs to step up and do something if he wants to keep that seat!
paul cervenka July 19, 2011 at 01:29 PM
Elections bring out touching subjects like, Middle class jobs! Fact. It's easier to start a business in China than in the USofA. Fix that Rep.Lipinski. Do "your" job.Layers of government regulations and restrictions prohibit job creation in the USofA. In the 80s millions of good living wage jobs went to Mexico, (NAFTA) no one said a word. As long as everyone could get easy money and live their illusion of a life style everything was fine. All those affordable Chinese products in WalMart came with a price alright, Jobs. Make it irresistable for company's and they will come. Guaranteed. That is why Texas is growing and creating more jobs than any other state, in a depression? Indiana, not far behind. Ask the corporations that recently moved there Rep. Lipinski. Watch west coast rail traffic to the midwest. It's booming, with imported goods! We have a new rail container yard SW of Joliet. All China imports. When this slows, we might begin to see job growth. Eliminate those shipping containers Rep. Lipinski. Manufacturing left because of Government restrictions and incentives. Tell a corporation what they have to do, and they're gone. They only stayed untill they had an alternative. Manufacturing creates wealth. Who didn't know that? Rep. Lipinski.
Thomas July 19, 2011 at 06:36 PM
Paul you make some good points, but the one about Texas, sorry I know way too much about that situation to say they are the model to follow as a way to shore up the middle class, and bring back those good paying jobs. As an example, and maybe you were unaware of this, but for: 1.) The job growth in Texas has been centered around minimum wage jobs, good paying jobs are rare in Texas, 2.) Texas has more uninsured workers than any other state in the union, and there are more working people on public assistance in Texas than in any other state in the union, accept California, 3.) Texas ranks near the bottom relative to the quality and access to health care 4.) Texas leads the nation in the use of emergency rooms as a source of primary health care 5.) Texas ranks near the bottom in the quality education for grade school through high school 6.) Texas has one of the largest budget deficits, 2nd only to California. They played with the numbers to hide their shortfalls and used the Federal Stimulus money that was supposed to go to job creation projects to shore up their short term budget shortfall, but now that those funds are used up the real truth about the financial problems of the state are surfacing. Everyone is using Texas as a model, but their being proven wrong when the facts are considered. If people did their research, and not rely on what someone tells them they would stop. The facts about Texas are disturbing and are just now coming out


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