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Trumka: Manufacturing Revival Vital to Strong National Security

Center for National Policy

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today said our national security depends on reviving the nation’s manufacturing and industrial base. He called for adding 4 million manufacturing jobs and eliminating the trade deficit within five years.  

In a wide-ranging speech at the Center for National Policy (CNP), Trumka said economic strength is crucial to America’s national security and economic standing, and manufacturing is central to economic strength. That’s a connection that most people understand, he said.

For the first time in a long time, pundits and economists have begun to talk about the revival of good jobs—of making things in America—as a measure of our national economy instead of simply pointing to whatever’s happening in the financial markets.

Watch the full discussion here.

Trumka credited President Obama for being “a genuine leader on manufacturing and national security.”

He has made the pivot to focus on Asia as a cornerstone of his foreign policy, while at the same time being willing to make the hard decisions necessary to revive U.S. manufacturing. 

Yet more needs to be done, Trumka said. The biggest obstacles have been misguided budget cuts in the name of government austerity and unwillingness by some politicians to talk sensibly about taxes. America and the world face a choice between government austerity and economic growth, Trumka said. Leaders “need to shed the notion that government austerity is virtuous—when austerity means starving our economy of public investment.”

A manufacturing revival depends on massive public and private investments in energy and transportation infrastructure and in our system of public education and lifelong skill development.

Trumka drew approval from the gathering when he said bluntly that “American leaders need to drop this unreasonable fear of taxation. It’s become ridiculous.…Fair taxation should not be unspeakable. It’s smart and necessary.”

About the rights of workers on the job, Trumka spoke plainly.

America’s leaders need to question and discard the prejudicial idea that workers are a problem in the economy—a source of costs—and that the best worker is a silenced worker. Workers are not a burden, but the backbone of America. Workers are assets to be invested in, not costs to be cut.

Doing what’s needed to revive manufacturing is “easier and more natural than many people realize,” Trumka said.

America has the resources. We have millions of highly skilled workers, as well as millions of workers who want to learn and want to work. We have manufacturing centers that still produce tremendous value, and some that simply await the crews of construction workers to revamp and retool.

Click here for the full speech.

The CNP is an independent think tank dedicated to advancing the economic and national security of the United States. It brings together thought leaders and decision makers who are focused on the revitalization of our economy for the benefit of all Americans and the strengthening of the values of human rights and democracy at home and across the globe. Click here to learn more.

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