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Policy advice from steel leaders


An open letter from the Steel Manufacturers Association's board of directors to members of the 112th U.S. Congress and steel policymakers


America's steel industry is facing the most serious economic challenge it has encountered since the Great Depression. In the last decade, the United States has lost 20 percent of its manufacturing jobs. Other nations have strategies that support exporting goods, while U.S. policies are resulting in importing debt and exporting jobs. However well intentioned, incremental legislative measures are insufficient. The damage has gone far beyond the use of inadequate traditional fixes.

Unless the main core issues are addressed, there will be little improvement within the manufacturing sector. As for steel, our nation needs an adequate domestic supply to maintain our national economic security, to contribute to our national defense, to provide a sufficient domestic source of steel for infrastructure rebuilding and rehabilitation and to help ensure the recovery of U.S. manufacturing.

Policymakers need to address structural policy deficiencies in order to ensure the United States is a competitive place for manufacturing investment by

•?Substantially reducing our trade and current account deficits.

•?Engaging in a concerted drive for greater energy independence.

•?Avoiding unnecessary regulatory burdens that place domestic manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage.

•?Creating new oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions policy and other over-reaching regulations are established through approved legislative initiatives rather than questionable regulatory actions.

•?Initiating a significant U.S. infrastructure rebuilding program to replace our crumbling infrastructure.

•?Revising the U.S. business tax code and adopting a lower, internationally competitive corporate tax level, which in part should consist of a value-added tax to be imposed on imports and rebated on exports.

We cannot alter global economic integration. It is a fact of life. However, we must be able to demonstrate that America is still a great place for manufacturing investment. As the world becomes "flat," the United States must ensure that its domestic companies aren't placed at a disadvantage in the global marketplace. To accomplish this, the United States must adopt a business tax policy that can compete with foreign tax policies and entice U.S. businesses to remain and expand in the United States.

Further, to be competitive as a nation we must reduce the existing trade, current account and budget deficits, all of which are hollowing out U.S. manufacturing industries.

Current fiscal and regulatory policies have created an investment climate that not only impels but actively incents U.S. companies to invest much of their manufacturing capital offshore. American companies need more effective and more certain government policies on taxes, environmental regulations, labor and energy to stimulate domestic investment.

SMA members expect to be a key component of the U.S. economic rebound. We very much appreciate support from members of the 112th Congress for the steel industry and manufacturing workers across the country.

The Steel Manufacturers Association is the primary trade association for electric furnace steel producers. It is the largest steel industry trade association in

North America, whose members account for more than 75 percent of total U.S. steel production capacity. Its 35 member companies operate 125 plants across North America.

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