Biden must prioritize American manufacturing
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After a contentious election and days of uncertainty about the outcome of the 2020 election, Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation US records 2,300 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic rises with holidays MORE has been elected as the 46th president of the United States. The American people have spoken, and they have elected a leader who throughout the campaign spoke about the need to rebuild the American economy and create millions of family-sustaining jobs. This will only be possible, however, if President-elect Biden makes manufacturing a key part of his Build Back Better plan.

A Gallup poll released less than a month ago showed that nearly nine in 10 voters considered the economy as “extremely” (44 percent) or “very” (45 percent) important to their vote, more than any other issue, including health care and education. These findings were reinforced on Election Day, when exit polls showed that the economy was top of mind for voters as they cast their ballots.

When thinking about the economy, voters were quick to zero in on how critical the manufacturing sector is to the U.S. economy. Polling showed that more than 90 percent of voters believe manufacturing is critical or important to the economy, while a similar percentage of voters believe it is critical or important to the job market.

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Despite the importance of manufacturing-heavy swing states during this election, neither campaign made the future of American manufacturing a consistent priority. In his speech to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, then Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden mentioned manufacturing only once. During the Sept. 29 presidential debate, both candidates only mentioned manufacturing in passing, and neither candidate promised to make it a priority. Manufacturing was not mentioned at all during the second presidential debate.

Both candidates’ failure to prioritize manufacturing during the campaign is even more glaring considering that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of manufacturing and its role as the vibrant engine of the American economy. A recent poll by Morning Consult found that nine in ten registered voters said it was important that elected officials support the manufacturing industry as it navigated the many challenges brought by the unprecedented public health crisis and economic recession. The same poll also showed that eight in ten registered voters said a candidate’s position on manufacturing would influence how they voted.

The electoral map has made it clear that manufacturing voters play a direct, determining role in deciding who occupies the Oval Office for the next four years. This election came down to the final vote counts in just a few states: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These states are the heart of U.S. manufacturing.

When Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States, he will take office in the face of crises of historic proportions and deep divisions. Americans look to him to unite and heal our nation, defeat the pandemic and rebuild our economy. Equipment manufacturers are committed to supporting him in this effort. But we also hope that he will make manufacturing a bigger priority than it was during the campaign. To do so, Biden must prioritize the policies that will keep equipment manufacturers strong and America exceptional. As a recent survey of more than 100 executives from leading equipment manufacturing companies found, this involves rebuilding and modernizing our crumbling infrastructure, keeping our tax system competitive, and opening up more markets for international trade.

Equipment manufacturers face numerous challenges. Tariff threats, hikes and retaliations have become a major source of uncertainty, and the drag from the protracted trade war with China continues to ripple through the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, the United States is facing up to a $2 trillion infrastructure funding gap, while the manufacturing sector faces a workforce crisis with more than half a million unfilled manufacturing jobs. Biden should begin his first term as president by laying out an ambitious agenda for how to address these challenges and achieve economic recovery and American renewal.

The 2.8 million men and women of the equipment manufacturing industry look to Biden to put policies ahead of politics and strengthen American manufacturing. In turn, equipment manufacturers stand ready to work with him to revitalize our economy and help rebuild American lives and communities. For as Biden said during his victory speech on Nov. 7, “we are the United States of America and there is nothing we cannot accomplish if we work together.”

Kip Eideberg is the Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Relations for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.