Detroit Provides the Right Backdrop for 2020 Democratic Candidates to Talk Manufacturing

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

We have a few ideas for what moderators should ask the candidates during this week's debates.

The second round of the 2020 Democratic presidential debates begin on Tuesday night in Detroit, and it’s make or break time for many of the candidates.

We’re looking at you, Bill de Blasio.

You might remember that last time around, trade and manufacturing didn’t come up all that much. On night two, some of the candidates shared their thoughts on standing up to China, and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan talked about his ideas for factory job growth, but that’s about it.

While we’re sure there will be other timely topics to discuss this time around, we have a sneaking suspicion that trade and manufacturing will come up a bit more. Major trade talks between the U.S. and China are happening in Shanghai this week, after all, and so we can see moderators Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper offering a question or two on that.

But these debates are also happening in Detroit, a city that knows firsthand the devastation of unbalanced trade — along with the benefits that manufacturing still can create.

You might not call it a comeback, but it is clear that the Motor City is in the midst of a rebirth. Investment is pouring in, helping to revitalize downtown. Outside the city’s center, some of the Old Victorians that sat dilapidated for decades are getting new life.

Detroit’s startup culture is strong, and popular companies like Shinola continue to give the city a cool edge — Shinola even has a hotel now! Don’t count out some of the older manufacturing brands, either: Ford Motor Co., a Motor City mainstay, is in the midst of a $350 million renovation of the city’s long-neglected but much-beloved Michigan Central Station.

Still, not everybody is seeing the benefits of Detroit’s comeback, and there is still a long way to go before the city can reclaim its former glory. And General Motors is officially closing its 78-year-old transmission plant in Warren, Michigan on Thursday, another big blow to the region.

Seems like Detroit is the perfect setting to ask the crop of candidates about the policies that will help strengthen manufacturing, prevent middle class job loss, and help communities across America thrive. So we'll close this blog with a message to the team at CNN. Maybe ask the candidates about:

  1. China: This is an obvious one — see above for the sentence about trade talks — but it is something that nearly all of the Democratic candidates have been dodging for most of the campaign. However, it's not something they can avoid for much longer. There's growing bipartisan consensus that China is a serious threat, and the next president is going to need a plan for dealing with it.
  2. Trade: A handful of the candidates have talked trade in general — Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren put out a plan on Monday, for example — but most of the talk has been quippy one-liners rather than anything of real substance. It's obvious that the Democrats are going to oppose a lot of what President Trump is doing on trade (and, like, everything else) but candidates also need to share their ideas about what they will do.
  3. Infrastructure: SERIOUSLY NO JOKE. America's infrastructure continues to fall apart. It's costing America jobs and making us less competitive. Trump promised a $2 trillion infrastructure package but then decided to play politics. Meanwhile, there's widespread bipartisan support for rebuilding infrastructure with Buy America preferences to make sure the work is done stateside, which will create millions of middle class jobs. Everybody should have a plan on this — and they should be talking about it! It's a no-brainer!!! 

On a final note: If you aren't planning on tuning in the next two nights, have no fear. We'll be watching both debates this week, and we will share recaps of anything manufacturing-related that happens. Stay tuned!


Reposted from AAM

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