Former Governor Jennifer Granholm (D–MI) confessed Wednesday to an “obsession” with creating manufacturing jobs in the United States. That is a brave admission, given that the dictionary defines obsession as “a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea.”
Following up on President Obama’s call in Charlotte for creation of a million new manufacturing jobs over the next four years, Granholm offers an eight-step program to make it happen. Her suggestions are what you would expect from a champion of industrial policy: incentives, rewards, tax breaks, and subsidies. In other words, more government spending.
Granholm apparently sees no problem with redistributing money from American consumers to politically favored corporations. That’s really what protectionism is about.
Of course, “higher prices for everyone” probably isn’t a winning political slogan.
The other puzzling aspect of this is the emphasis on creating new exports at a time when, by Granholm’s own admission, the “U.S. is now on a pace to exceed the record $2.1 trillion in exports we saw in 2011.”
In any case, if the priority is to create jobs, then an obsessive focus on exports is entirely misplaced. A just-released study by The Heritage Foundation identifies more than half a million jobs—good-paying jobs in the United States—supported by imports of toys and apparel from just one country: China.
Trade—whether between Michigan and Texas or the U.S. and China—is good for our economy and good for jobs. We don’t need new subsidies to create jobs and prosperity; we just need government to get out of the way.