The Corner

Obama’s Manufacturing Plan

President Obama’s new pamphlet lays out his economic plan for a second term, and he devotes one page (that’s a lot of space, relative to the size of this thing) to “Reviving American Manufacturing.” The following graph is provided, supposedly in order to demonstrate the president’s record so far, and show that we can create “1,000,000+ New Jobs” in the sector: 

How impressive, right? Well, actually, some pretty bizarre smoothing and axis distortion is needed to make the American manufacturing jobs record look like it’s been strong or the beginning of such an impressive trend. Here’s what’s actually happened since the beginning of the president’s term:

The president’s graph is basically just distorted to make what we see is not very strong growth look steep, and then they just drew a line to continue that. Look, I can do that too:

That’s right, Obama’s stupendous promise of “1,000,000+ New Jobs” will get us back to January 2009 levels of manufacturing employment. I know what you’re saying, we should definitely trust this administration when they draw made-up lines on graphs.

But their line is actually not really a fair prediction given current trends. It requires creating manufacturing jobs at a rate of about 20,000 per month. Here’s what we’ve seen in 2012:

Not exactly going too well — the U.S. has actually lost manufacturing jobs the last two months, though you wouldn’t know it from the up-up-and-away chart the Obama pamphlet gives you. And how, exactly, does the administration propose to get us back on track? They repeated that their desire to rid us of the non-existent “tax deductions for companies shipping jobs overseas,” they’ll keep winning trade disputes against China (having won a whopping three during the past four years), etc.

Here’s one way we actually might be able to do it: Instead of artificially propping up incentives for manufacturing jobs, the administration should do its best to encourage natural-gas development. Cheap natural gas from domestic sources, as the Wall Street Journal reports today, is leading a revival in chemical and metals manufacturing all across the Midwest.

Patrick Brennan was a senior communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration and is former opinion editor of National Review Online.


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