• Establish a national infrastructure bank to leverage capital for large-scale transportation and energy projects.
• Reshape the tax code in a revenue neutral way to provide incentives for job creation and inward investment. R&D tax credits should help firms that not only innovate in America but also make their products here. Lower tax rates for manufacturing activity in America and eliminate tax shelters for hedge funds or financial transactions that have no real value.
• Apply "buy America" provisions to all federal spending to ensure that American workers and businesses get the first shot at procurement contracts. (Nothing says "please steal our jobs" like using subsidized Chinese steel in construction projects.)
• Shift some education investment to rebuilding our vocational and technical skills program, which would address looming shortages in the manufacturing sector.
• Refocus the trade agenda by giving American businesses new tools to counter China's currency manipulation, industrial subsidies, intellectual property theft and barriers to market access.
• Condition new federal loan guarantees for energy projects on the utilization of domestic supply chains for construction.
Focusing on manufacturing will also lower our trade deficit which will make it easier for America to pay its bills. But that's only half the story. There is plenty that President Obama could do on his own right now:
• Expedite small business loans through the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department to help firms expand, retool and hire.
• Convene a multilateral meeting to address global imbalances and in particular Chinese mercantilism. If China doesn't agree to participate, designate it a currency manipulator. (China ships fully one-third of its exports to the U.S. and finances less than 10 percent of our public debt, so we have more leverage than some might suggest.)
• On the heels of the landmark agreement with automakers on fuel economy standards, secure an additional agreement from all foreign and domestic car companies to increase their levels of domestic content by at least 10 percent over the next three years.
• Direct the Department of Defense to leverage existing procurement to contractors that commit to increasing their domestic content of our military equipment, technology and supplies.
• Approve additional applications for renewable and traditional energy projects, contingent on the use of American materials in construction.
• Kick any CEO off of federal advisory boards or jobs councils who has: (1) not created net new American jobs over the past five years, or (2) is expanding the company's foreign workforce at a faster rate than its domestic workforce. Replace them with CEOs who are committed to investing in America. Shame is a good motivator.
Many of these steps are commonsense ways to refocus existing federal programs, policies and investment on what we sorely need the most right now: job creation. Of course, there are major investments in infrastructure, innovation and education that must be bolstered to prepare America for global competition and provide sustained job growth. If the recommendations of the "supercommittee" fail to include these investments, Congress truly will be dooming the next generation to a lower standard of living.
All of our global competitors leverage their trade policies and public investment this way. America stands alone in protecting an old philosophy rather than our jobs. That must change because our trade deficit leads to a jobs deficit which contributes mightily to our budget deficit.
Congress, please get to work. Mr. President, please do the same. Stop blaming each other and do your jobs. Otherwise, you might all be looking for work after next November.
Scott N. Paul is the executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a non-partisan, non-profit group which brings together a select group of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers. The AAM promotes creative policy solutions on such priorities as international trade, energy security, health care, retirement security, currency manipulation and other issues of concern to its constituents.