The U.S. Business and Industry Council (USBIC) and its research arm, the U.S. Business and Industry Council Educational Foundation (USBICEF)—not-for-profit research and educational organizations—are grassroots movements dedicated to improving the American public’s awareness of critical public policy issues in such diverse fields as manufacturing, trade, taxation, education, healthcare, foreign relations, defense and national security, among others, through broadcast, print and alternative media methods.
A Manufacturing Mission
USBIC member companies are typically family-owned or privately held, mostly in the manufacturing sector, states USBIC and USBICEF President Kevin Kearns. “This composition has given the USBIC an outlook on issues more rooted in mainstream America than other national business groups, which are dominated by giant multinational corporations with global agendas and dwindling national loyalties,” Kearns comments. The organization has approximately 1,500 member companies spanning 44 states. Kearns notes that the organization is concerned about the impact of “globalization” on American society and independence.
Because it doesn’t represent a single industry, Kearns notes that the USBIC bases its policy positions on a “national interest” standard. “The positions we take must be good for the country as a whole,” he says. The organization favors lower taxes and opposes government levies on families and estates, capital gains and regulations that “retard productive activities, especially in the development of new domestic energy sources that are needed to power a strong national economy,” etc. The USBIC also promotes advancing U.S. interests overseas.
The USBIC knows the power the media has to publicize a cause—and utilizes it to the fullest extent. “We do a great job of getting domestic manufacturers’ word out to the media,” Alan Tonelson, USBICEF Research Fellow, notes. “Most mainstream media is generally hostile to what we have to say. So, in the mid ‘90s we started using alternative media—fax machines for example—to bypass traditional media and get our message out.”
Kearns notes that college campuses are willing recipients of the organization’s message. “We have a college newspaper syndication service and a college newspaper political cartoon service,” he says. “We pay the royalties for these editorial-type political cartoons and columns and distribute these to approximately 200 college newspapers. Because we pay the royalties, the students are able to use them in their newspapers free of charge. It is a way of educating a part of what will most likely be the ‘opinion elite’ of the next generation, because so many of the students involved in their campus newspapers enter the media and/or politics.”
The organization’s Web site also is a “goldmine of information and analysis for anyone interested in trade manufacturing and globalization issues,” Tonelson remarks. “The new version—due to debut first quarter of this year—will feature 10-minute lectures and printed materials that college professors can download and have a discussion with their class on some of the many issues that we cover,” Kearns adds. The Web site also will include webinars, video commentaries and blogs.
The USBIC will remain focused on changing trade policy, Tonelson maintains. “Critical this year is pushing Congress to pass a strong China currency bill (see The Chinese Currency Manipulation Act of 2008 Sidebar). It is a top legislative priority. We also are working very hard at pushing Congress to do something about the devastating impacts on U.S.-based manufacturing and U.S. trade flows of all discriminatory foreign value-added tax systems, which work as hidden subsidies for foreign exports and hidden foreign taxes on U.S. imports.”
In conclusion, Kearns emphasizes the need for everyone to be invested in the future of manufacturing. “Business owners and their employees should be writing in to their Congressmen and Senators,” he urges. “It is absolutely critical because manufacturing is not on the radar screen in Washington the way it should be. The best investment in the future of your business is to either maintain your current membership in an advocacy group—or join one so your voice gets heard.”