With the economic recovery hitting a snag of late, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley,
D-Iowa, was only too happy to tour Sivyer Steel’s foundry in Bettendorf on Monday.
The foundry is, unlike many other businesses in the area, in the midst of hiring.
The company has added 40 jobs this year and plans to add 40 more by the end of 2010.
In a year when the economy is expected to be a key factor in the midterm election, both parties are battling for the public’s confidence on how to create jobs.
Lately, Quad-City area Democrats have shifted from touting the $862 billion stimulus package approved last year to begin drawing attention to a package of proposals aimed at boosting manufacturing jobs.
Their critics say they’re simply trying to shift the public’s eye away from health care and cap-and-trade legislation they think have caused so much uncertainty that companies are sitting on cash, stunting job growth.
Manufacturing is a touchstone in most older communities, including the
In the four-county area, 8,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared since mid-2000 and about 1,000 since the middle of last year.
Sivyer says it aggressively sought out sales even when it was busy two years ago.
That’s led to more work and more jobs at a time when other businesses are struggling.
“Some of those fruits were rewarded to us in 2010,” said Keith Kramer, the company’s executive vice president of sales.
Sivyer also signed an agreement with the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center on the Rock Island Arsenal in April. The deal is aimed at attracting more work for both places.
Braley said Monday that the bills the House approved last month will help others enjoy Sivyer’s success.
The measures would require development of a national manufacturing strategy and establish a commission aimed at finding ways to reduce the U.S. trade deficit.
China is manipulating its currency and doesn’t have the same workplace standards, giving that country an advantage, he said.
“By ending some of those inequities and addressing that trade imbalance, it will give Sivyer an opportunity to be more competitive,” Braley said.
The proposals, part of a Democratic program called “Make it in America,” also includes provisions to help companies in the clean energy technology industry.
U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., also has touted a bill aimed at rewarding manufacturers that create jobs in the U.S.
It’s not those bills that their Republican opponents are criticizing so much, however.
Bobby Schilling, the restaurateur who is running against Hare, says the health-care law and cap-and-trade bill the House approved last year are creating so much uncertainty among employers that they’re a drag on the economy.
“They keep putting through these bills that are crushing jobs,” Schilling said.
Schilling and Ben Lange, the Independence Republican who is running against Braley, say they would create jobs by cutting spending and regulations. They also say they would extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
Lange said assuring business their taxes will not go up will, in itself, be a catalyst.
“That alone will create that confidence level,” he said.
Democrats say extending those tax cuts will simply balloon the deficit and won’t boost the economy.
“I think their strategy is to do nothing,” Hare said.
Braley said he thinks companies are sitting on cash because of the global economic uncertainties, not because of the legislation Democrats have approved.