Four Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois said at NPE2009 that many of the initiatives the Obama administration is backing health-care reform, cap-and-trade plans, an end to secret ballots for union elections could be disastrous for the plastics industry and manufacturing.
I have never seen as many issues that affect the manufacturing sector in Washington as there are now, and I have never seen them move as quickly as they are moving now, Republican Rep. Don Manzullo said at a June 22 news conference. Manufacturers are fed up with the presumption that 535 persons some 730 miles from [Chicago] think they know the answers. If you keep slapping regulation after regulation on manufacturers, I don't know how competitive they can continue to be.
Rep. Peter Roskam offered a similar take. I am observing in Washington a disconnect between what they are talking about and what they are delivering, he said. Manufacturers are disheartened by the spending that is advancing in Washington. There is a gnawing feeling on the part of manufacturers that somehow they are getting the raw end of the deal. They are weary of what they are seeing and not really hopeful.
For example, Manzullo called the cap-and-trade proposal absolutely outrageous and possibly one of the biggest job distorters of all time.
What is needed, said Democratic Rep. Debbie Halvorson, is a cap-and-trade bill that doesn't benefit both coasts and makes the Midwest pay for it. She added that the recycling industry is not getting its fair share under the current proposal for energy credits.
She is also concerned about the health-care reform proposal. If we are going to pass health-care reform, we have to find a way to pay for it, she said. We have to do whatever we have to do to keep the plastics industry competitive.
Health care done wrong could be very disruptive, added Republican Rep. John Shimkis. The last thing I want is to see government control health-care decisions, or a scenario that gives people the choice of keeping their current private or employer-sponsored health insurance only if they pay taxes on it.
He continued, I also think we need to preserve the right to secret union representation elections, rather than create a system where a union can gain approval by a majority of workers signing card checks authorizing a union as the Employee Free Choice Act would do.
We have to raise the awareness of the problems of these different pieces of legislation, Shimpkis said.
But that will be a challenge, said Manzullo, who co-founded the congressional bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus six years ago.
The biggest underlying issue for the plastics industry and all manufacturers is that most congressmen have no clue as to what goes on in a manufacturing plant, he said, adding that only 50 of the 535 members of Congress have a significant amount of manufacturing in the regions they represent.
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