What Does a Biden Presidency Mean for Manufacturing?
While it might’ve taken a few extra days to tally the votes, the results are in: Joe Biden is the President Elect of the United States. On Saturday, November 7, he and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris gave their acceptance speeches and affirmed their plan for the next four years of governing. Biden’s message was clear: this is a time for unity and rebuilding, with an eye on the future. And while manufacturing wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the list of priorities for the Biden administration, Biden’s plan to Build Back Better has a clear manufacturing component.
Made in America
The President Elect’s Made in America plan has been a cornerstone of his campaigning since the beginning of the year. Details of the plan have materialized throughout the campaign, and the outline of a final plan is now available from the Biden team (read the entire plan here).
The Made in America plan breaks down into six key areas of focus, all designed to boost reshoring and domestic production through proactive investments and incentives, while curbing offshoring through penalties and restrictions. The six core components of the plan include:
- Buy American, which includes a $400 billion procurement investment.
- Make It In America, which brings incentives, resources, and financing to producers.
- Innovate In America, which includes a $300 billion investment in R&D.
- Invest In All Of America, which includes investments in training and education.
- Stand Up For America, which pursues a pro-American tax and trade strategy.
- Supply America, focused on bringing critical supply chains back to America.
The specifics of Biden’s plan outline a fast-acting approach to reshoring by cracking down on waivers to Buy American requirements and strengthening incentives to buy American. The plan aims to reinvigorate the “Made in America” concept by rebuilding the manufacturing backbone of the economy, starting with smaller producers.
An uphill battle
Although we have more specifics today than we did when the Made in America plan was originally announced, there are still questions. As the Biden administration begins to assemble a transition team and build out its cabinet, all eyes will be on the people chosen to head up key areas — including the U.S. Trade Representative, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, and the Secretary of Commerce.
Biden also faces an uphill battle to fund his Made in America plan, which — when tabulated entirely — approaches the $1 trillion investment mark. With reluctance to pass bipartisan legislation that adds to the deficit, congress and the senate could stall Made in America before it has a chance to develop — or handicap its progress.
Finally, there’s the reversal of Trump Administration policies to consider, which represents several key points in Biden’s plan. Even successful rollbacks of Trump policies won’t negate the current quagmire caused by ongoing trade wars and trade tensions. According to Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University who studies Midwestern manufacturing, cited in an in-depth analysis by Politico:
“If the next administration was able to end the trade wars, to eliminate tariffs and to continue to stop essentially taxing Americans for buying foreign goods, I think we would see a big explosion in manufacturing in the United States and really boost the prospects of a recovery.”
The Biden Administration’s plan is a good one — provided it can overcome the obstacles in front of it. That, and the recovery begins only after the COVID-19 crisis comes under control. Nevertheless, despite monumental expectations after a divisive election, it appears domestic manufacturing remains a top consideration for the President Elect. The sentiment bodes well for a new era of American manufacturing.