WASHINGTON — ‘We’ve had eight years of a failed economic policy,’ Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told a packed workshop titled “Manufacturing America: Common Sense About Global Economic Strategy,” at the America’s Future Now conference here this week. ‘We have to restore credibility to regulatory institutions, institute a long-term plan for job growth and reinvest in our national infrastructure,’ she said.

Robert Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, which organized the conference, said rebuilding the nation’s manufacturing base is ‘central to the economic debate.’ He added, ‘We need to make things again.’

Clyde Prestowitz, from the Economic Strategy Institute, compared the more regulated economies of Europe, Japan and China to ours, and called for “a strategy to respond to the economic challenges’ facing the nation.

We need an ‘optimal economic structure for the whole economy’ not just for certain sectors, he said. In other words, he argued, we need to plan and regulate our entire economy, like other industrial democracies, to avoid similar crisis scenarios in the future.

China, Japan and most European governments have a ‘politics of production,’ Prestowitz said. ‘They actually make stuff that employs people.’ However, the U.S. has a ‘politics of consumption’ of goods made somewhere else.

In the new economy, ‘Americans will need to consume more of what they produce,’ Prestowitz said. Currently, he noted, only ’11 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP) is based in manufacturing, half of what it was in 1981.’

“We will not be able to adjust our trade imbalance without more manufacturing,’ Prestowitz said.

Thea Lee, an economist with the AFL-CIO, underscored those points. The United States right now has three ‘fundamental structural imbalances,’ she said.

First, ‘we consume more than we produce. We borrow and spend,’ Lee said.

Second, our financial sector isn’t our ‘real economy’ — “there are trillions in paper wealth [that] can all disappear,’ as million of Americans are painfully aware.

Third, she said, our worker-employer relations are geared towards ‘multinational corporations getting everything they want.’

Noting that ‘capital mobility’ is coupled with ‘labor immobility,’ Lee said policymakers need to develop an ‘in-sourcing strategy’ that provides incentives for employers to provide good paying, union jobs here in the U.S.

Rep. DeLauro took things one step further, suggesting that the U.S. create a National Infrastructure Development Bank that would issue 30-year development bonds to finance massive public works projects. She said it could be modeled after the European Investment Bank.

‘We need to depoliticize our infrastructure investments,’ DeLauro said, referring to right-wing attempts to paint government intervention and regulation as socialism.

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tonypec @ cpusa.org

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