election-2016With the 2016 General Election around the corner, it’s a fitting time to take a close look at the issues that will define the manufacturing industry’s long-term health and economic growth. As employers of more than 12 million Americans, manufacturers are uniquely positioned to advocate for policies and initiatives that will spur economic development—and fuel the industry’s comeback. We’re not here to tell you who to vote for, but we do believe manufacturers’ voices need to be heard in this election.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) created a helpful infographic summarizing the key policy issues on the industry’s radar:

  • Supporting our workforce and job creation
  • Modernizing our infrastructure
  • Detangling regulations
  • Tax reform
  • Educating and training the next generation of manufacturers
  • Developing energy resources
  • Global trade

The candidates for the two major political parties have different views on how to invigorate the economy and position American manufacturers for global success. In the below table, we’ve laid out an un-editorialized comparison of the candidates’ public proposals against the key issues.

No matter who wins in November, change is on the horizon—but it isn’t going to be immediate. During the election cycle—and particularly during presidential election cycles—it is all too easy to get caught up in policy proposals and campaign rhetoric. But the fact is policy change is a complex and slow-moving process requiring compromise on the part of both the President and Congress, meaning whatever a candidate proposes now is unlikely to look much like what might eventually be signed into law.

And don’t underestimate the importance of state and local elections. Many of the most important economic development initiatives come at the state level, as do the majority of manufacturers’ tax liabilities. Moreover, state and local governments tend to move tax changes along at a much faster clip than their federal counterparts. These changes, such as the “right-to-work” amendments proposed on ballots in five different states, could stand to have a major, and relatively immediate, impact on your business.

As we look toward November 8, there’s one clear takeaway: At 12 million people strong, the manufacturing vote counts. But while all eyes are on the election, manufacturers are in a position to advocate for the industry every day, and not just when the polls are open.

On the Issues

*Based on the candidates’ most recent positions













Hillary Clinton 2016 Official Website

Donald J. Trump for President Official Website

New York Times, “Hillary Clinton Unveils $275 Billion Infrastructure Investment Plan.” 30 Nov. 2015

Washington Post, “The first Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript, annotated.” 26 Sept. 2016

Politico, “Full Transcript of Third 2016 Presidential Debate.” Oct. 2016

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