Bringing jobs home to Ohio

May 31st, 2012    Author: Administrator    Filed Under: Opinion

Sherrod Brown

Like you, too often I’ve opened the newspaper only to learn that jobs in our state—whether in Mansfield, Lorain, or Springfield—are being outsourced to places like China, Indonesia, or Mexico. We have seen a decade of manufacturing job loss and factory shutdowns, which has weakened communities and blindsided families all across our state.

Today, the manufacturing sector is beginning to turn around. Over the last two years, our country has added 400,000 manufacturing jobs. We made a tough choice to restructure the auto companies, which has revitalized manufacturing across the supply chain. But it’s not enough— we must encourage companies to return to the United States, and discourage them from ever leaving. We have to replace “outsourcing” with “reshoring”—bringing good-paying jobs back to the United States.

Combined with our country’s outdated trade policy, current American tax law actually encourages companies to move jobs offshore—where labor is cheap and environmental and health standards are weak. As it stands, businesses can receive a tax break for moving personnel and company equipment to a foreign country — effectively deducting the cost of moving jobs overseas from their U.S. taxes. Instead of promoting job growth here, our nation’s tax laws reward companies for outsourcing.

That’s why I’m sponsoring the Bring Jobs Home Act, which makes two common-sense changes in our tax laws—a carrot-and-stick approach.

The proposed legislation would give a 20 percent tax credit for costs associated with moving a production line, trade, or business back to the United States. Any business that brings jobs back to the United States can use this credit to reduce their overall tax liability. In providing this tax credit, we incentivize companies to reshore jobs that might have been moved abroad. It would also close the tax loophole that allows companies to take a tax deduction when they send jobs abroad. Our laws should reward companies for bringing jobs to the United States, not for shipping them overseas.

It’s clear why the United States, and Ohio especially, is a good place to do business. We have a first-class workforce, a strong network of colleges and universities, and manufacturing know-how that is second to none. Despite all the roads and bridges we need to repair, which the Senate-passed highway bill takes a major step towards achieving, companies invest in the U.S. because we’re capable of building a first-class infrastructure. Not only that, but companies are returning to the U.S. because of higher costs associated with doing business abroad: whether that be transportation costs, higher labor wages in places like China, or the legal difficulties of doing business overseas.

The Bring Jobs Home Act builds upon these factors by giving a real, financial incentive for companies to bring their production lines back to the United States. It aims to make the United States more attractive to business development and investment, and would help make our country more competitive in the global marketplace.

In Ohio, we’re seeing more and more anecdotal evidence that demonstrates how companies are actively moving operations back to the United States from abroad. For instance, Apex Sports, based in Zanesville, produces softballs with an engineered foam core. Once made in China, Apex Sports now makes its softballs in the United States. Roesweld Products is a small plastics extruder in Columbus now making its product in Ohio instead of importing from China. Columbus-based Priority Designs manufactures D-Solv, a compostable netting bag system for yard waste. Its product is now made in the U.S., but was previously produced in Asia. Crane Plastics, also in Columbus, has successfully reshored jobs from China to Ohio.

We need to turn our tax code right side up when it comes to U.S. jobs—both promoting their creation and discouraging their elimination. That’s what the Bring Jobs Home Act does, and it’s one important step that we can take to continue turning our economy around.

Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.

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