NAM CEO hopes for reset with new administration

Association pushing for additional infrastructure spending

Last updated on July 7th, 2019 at 02:24 pm


The head of the National Association of Manufacturers says he’s glad both presidential campaigns have made manufacturing an important part of their campaigns, but also said some campaigning has cast the industry in a negative light.

“Hyperbole always is more interesting than fact,” said Jay Timmons, NAM president and chief executive officer. “The challenge for any institution will be how do we make sure that we’re having civil conversations after the election and presenting fact-based arguments rather than responding to rhetoric.”

Timmons said he believes manufacturers can work with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on increasing investment in infrastructure. His organization produced a report showing the need for nearly $1.3 trillion in additional infrastructure spending, with most of it coming on highways and bridges.

He said his organization doesn’t endorse any particular method of increasing revenue to fund the spending, but suggested taxes on companies repatriating money currently held overseas might be one source.

“My belief, and my commitment, is that the business community has to be the first one, first institution if you will, to step up and say to the next president, whoever he or she is, ‘we’re offering a hand of friendship, we want to work together. We will respectfully disagree when we feel the need to, but we will also enthusiastically work with you on areas where we have common concerns,’” Timmons said.

He said his organization hasn’t had “a particularly productive relationship” with the Obama administration or Congress and it has been “a difficult time for business to get its bearings.”

“On January 21st, we get to hit the restart button,” Timmons said. “Smart folks are going to take advantage of that opportunity and they’re going to try to achieve things for the good of the country.”

The exact types of legislation that would come forward will likely be dependent on who wins the White House and which party controls Congress. Timmons suggested Republican victories would make tax reform more likely while Democratic victories would increase the likelihood of progress on workforce development and immigration reform.

He said he’s confident progress can be made at least on some issues.

“I just don’t think there’s a high tolerance for inaction anymore,” he said. “I don’t think the American people are going to stand or four or even two more years of nothing happening.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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