For everyone who wants the United States to become a (bigger) manufacturing powerhouse again — so, most people in the U.S., and every member of Congress — a recent report from the Boston Consulting Group is a mixed blessing. On Friday, BCG released its rankings of cost competitiveness in manufacturing around the world, and the U.S. came in second place, after China. It is now more cost effective to produce goods in the U.S. than Brazil, the report found.
The U.S., along with Mexico, is one of the BCG's "rising stars" of global manufacturing, for having "significantly improved relative to nearly all other leading exporters across the globe." At least 300 companies have brought their manufacturing back to the U.S. from overseas, because "it just makes economic sense," BCG senior partner Hal Sirkin, a co-author of the report, tells Yahoo News. "The gap is closing and, when you add the transportation costs, it makes a lot more sense for a lot of products to be made in the U.S. than in China."
That sounds great, right? But remember what made China so alluring to manufacturers in the first place — low labor costs, lax environmental standards, and overworked factory workers? Here's BCG's explanation for why the U.S. is back in the manufacturing game:
The key reasons were stable wage growth, sustained productivity gains, steady exchange rates, and a big energy-cost advantage that is largely driven by the 50 percent fall in natural-gas prices since large-scale production of U.S. shale gas began in 2005. [BCG]
Another way of saying that: Fracking, foreign exchange rates, and that "stable wage growth," which Reuters calls "a euphemism for the fact that, in inflation-adjusted terms, industrial wages here are lower today than they were in the 1960s even though worker productivity has doubled over the same period of time." The only one of those factors that isn't controversial is the stronger yuan.
As this chart from The New York Times shows, the jobs that have been created in the post–Great Recession recovery have skewed toward the low end of the pay scale:
Most manufacturing jobs pay pretty decently, especially compared with fast food service. But as we celebrate the return of the American manufacturing sector, it's worth remembering that it's only partly because "Made in China" is becoming more expensive — "Made in the USA" is also becoming cheaper, for better and for worse.
A fake-news site is giving progressives a chance to visit an alternative reality in which Hillary Clinton won the election. HillaryBeatTrump.org features headlines such as "Confused by fake news, Redditers think Trump is President" and "Approval ratings for President Clinton hit 89%." The site promises to deliver "news from real America," where the "majority rules."
The Department of Homeland Security was apparently unable to find sufficient evidence to back President Trump's claim that his immigration executive order banning people from certain countries from entering the U.S. could protect the nation from terrorist threats, The Associated Press reported Friday, citing a draft document prepared by DHS analysts.
The report suggests that assessments of the seven predominantly Muslim countries included in Trump's travel ban found that "few people" from those countries "have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the U.S. since Syria's civil war started in 2011," The Associated Press reported. Moreover, the draft document concluded, "country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity."
The Associated Press noted Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen did not "dispute the report's authenticity," but said it "was not a final comprehensive review of the government's intelligence."
Trump's ban is presently blocked by the courts, but he has vowed to introduce a second executive order on the issue. Becca Stanek
On Friday, President Donald Trump made a speech at CPAC in which he slammed the "fake news" media for its use of anonymous sources. "They have no sources," Trump told the crowd, referring specifically to a story in The Washington Post that cited nine unnamed sources while accurately detailing former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's discussions with a Russian ambassador. Later in the day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held an informal, off-camera press briefing from which several prominent news outlets, including The New York Times and Politico, were specifically excluded.
CNN was also barred from entering Spicer's press gaggle Friday, prompting the network's anchor Jake Tapper to begin his afternoon show with a fiery assessment of the Trump administration's relationship with the press. Tapper noted that Trump seems "particularly averse to any criticism" and that his White House seems to have a "lack of basic understanding of how an adult White House functions." "It's petulant," Tapper said. "This White House does not seem to respect the idea of accountability. This White House does not seem to value an independent press. There is a word for that line of thinking. The word is 'un-American.'"
Watch Tapper's full takedown below. Kimberly Alters
— Nolan D. McCaskill (@NolanDMcCaskill) February 24, 2017
Amid town hall protests, GOP lawmaker worries: 'I don't know if we're going to be able to repeal ObamaCare now'
Republican Rep. Mo Brooks (Ala.) is starting to doubt the GOP will actually repeal ObamaCare. After witnessing swaths of angry citizens protesting at town halls across the nation, Brooks admitted in a radio interview this week that "a significant number of congressman are being impacted ... and their spine is a little bit weak."
"I don't know if we're going to be able to repeal ObamaCare now because these folks who support ObamaCare are very active, they're putting pressure on congressmen, and there's not a countereffort to steel the spine of some of these congressmen in tossup districts around the country," Brooks told WBHP 800 Alabama radio's The Morning Show with Toni & Gary.
Brooks, who insists the "monstrosity" that is the Affordable Care Act "needs to be repealed and right now," bashed President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for wavering on a full repeal. The Alabama congressman noted Trump's previous indication of support for parts of ObamaCare, and argued that if aspects of the ACA were retained it would be "an amendment to ObamaCare," not the promised full repeal. "Remember when Donald Trump publicly stated during the campaign that he's going to make sure everybody has health insurance?" Brooks asked. "That's ObamaCare." Becca Stanek
Republican Rep. Peter King of New York said Thursday that he is done holding town hall meetings because his angry constituents "diminish democracy," CNN reports. King, speaking on AM970 The Answer, explained: "There are people who are just angry, they're angry that Trump won, that Hillary lost. There's others who are being, I guess, egged on, if you will. So I'm assuming that they're all legitimate, but to me it just does not serve a purpose. It really diminishes democracy if you're gonna show up to a meeting to just scream and yell."
Instead of appearing in person, the Long Island representative is scheduled to hold a "tele" town hall that requires anyone interested in participating to "opt-in" online, Long Island Press reports. "I am not having these town hall meetings because to me all they do is just turn into a screaming session," King said. "What I am doing, I have done every national TV show."
King added that he is meeting with people who both support and want to repeal ObamaCare, which has proved to be one of the largest motivators for town hall dissenters. King said he will "try to explain that, when you're in front of a room and everyone is screaming and yelling [and] makes no sense, [it] really trivializes democracy." Jeva Lange
The White House blocked several major news organizations from an informal, off-camera briefing Friday in White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's office, sparking protest and outrage from the White House Correspondents' Association as well as other outlets. CNN, The New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, and much of the foreign press were not allowed in the room, CNN's Elizabeth Landers reports, although conservative outlets including Breitbart, The Washington Times, and One America News Network were allowed to attend. Networks including NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox were also included.
Reporters from The Associated Press and Time boycotted the press gaggle in protest of their colleagues' exclusion.
Reporters held out of today's White House briefing. pic.twitter.com/8uqelMjrtp
— Noah Bierman (@Noahbierman) February 24, 2017
In a statement, the White House Correspondents' Association wrote that the board is "protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House. We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not. The board will be discussing this further with White House staff."
Some at CNN & NYT stood w/FOX News when the Obama admin attacked us & tried 2 exclude us-a WH gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs https://t.co/8Vjcs0KCPR
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) February 24, 2017
On Thursday, chief strategist Stephen Bannon warned at CPAC: "[The press] are corporatist globalist media that are adamantly opposed to a economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has. Here's where it's going to get worse. He's going to continue to press his agenda. And, as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better, they're going to continue to fight. If you think they're going to give you their country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day it is going to be a fight." Jeva Lange
Leaked draft of ObamaCare replacement bill indicates Republicans plan to reduce Medicaid spending, limit subsidies
Politico shed some light on what Republicans may have in mind for their promised ObamaCare replacement plan Friday, when it published the contents of a leaked draft of a House Republican bill:
The legislation would take down the foundation of ObamaCare, including the unpopular individual mandate, subsidies based on people's income, and all of the law's taxes. It would significantly roll back Medicaid spending and give states money to create high-risk pools for some people with pre-existing conditions. Some elements would be effective right away; others not until 2020.
The replacement would be paid for by limiting tax breaks on generous health plans people get at work — an idea that is similar to the ObamaCare "Cadillac tax" that Republicans have fought to repeal. [Politico]
Though House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has promised repeal legislation will be introduced soon, Republicans have been less vocal about how they will go about replacing the Affordable Care Act, which has provided an estimated 20 million Americans with coverage. This draft suggests the GOP is "sticking closely to previous plans floated by Ryan and [Health and Human Services Secretary Tom] Price in crafting their ObamaCare repeal package," Politico reported.