April 28, 2014

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.
Peter Weber

9:31 p.m.

There are a few things Sarah Palin wants Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) to know about life as a vice presidential candidate.

On Instagram, Palin said she learned a lot of lessons when she was the late Sen. John McCain's running mate in 2008. Her first piece of advice? "Out of the chute, trust no one new," she said, adding, "Fight mightily to keep your own team with you — they know you, know your voice, and most importantly are trustworthy." Palin also suggested Harris "connect with media and voters in your own unique way. Some yahoos running campaigns will suffocate you with their own self-centered agenda, so remember, YOU were chosen for who YOU are."

Palin said when she was on the campaign trail, her favorite thing was the "ropeline," which allowed her to shake hands with and hug supporters. Each interaction, she said, "melted my heart, energized my soul, and gave me the utmost hope in the greatest country on Earth!" These were pre-pandemic times, so it's not likely that Harris will be able to greet people the way Palin did, but if she does she must "be sincere in looking in their eyes, understanding why they're there, never forgetting they represent the innumerable Americans putting their trust in you to serve for the right reasons." Catherine Garcia

8:29 p.m.

The Colorado attorney general's office on Tuesday announced it has launched a civil rights investigation into the Aurora Police Department's "patterns and practices," following several high-profile cases of alleged excessive force and misconduct.

This review began several weeks ago, a spokesperson said, and is separate from an investigation into the 2019 death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, an unarmed Black man who died after officers used a chokehold on him. Earlier Tuesday, McClain's family filed a lawsuit against the Aurora Police Department and paramedics, who injected him with ketamine.

Last week, a video went viral showing Aurora officers holding a Black family at gunpoint, after they mistakenly thought the family was in a stolen car. As they all lie face down on the pavement, one of the children is heard sobbing and screaming, "I want my mother!" The department later apologized, and interim Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson said there will be a review of how officers are trained to conduct high-risk stops. Catherine Garcia

7:23 p.m.

President Trump hasn't gotten over the way Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) grilled Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his 2018 Senate confirmation hearing, saying on Tuesday that she was "nasty to a level that was just horrible."

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced on Tuesday afternoon that he has selected Harris as his running mate, and Trump was asked about this during his evening coronavirus briefing. By picking Harris, Trump said, Biden is "handing over the reins to Kamala while they jointly embrace the radical left," and criticized her for supporting the expansion of Medicare.

Trump then brought up Harris' pointed questioning of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. "She was nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing, the way she was, the way she treated now-Justice Kavanaugh," he said. "And I won't forget that soon." When asked if he thinks Harris will boost Biden's appeal to voters, Trump responded, "Well, I like Vice President Mike Pence much better, he is solid as a rock. I will take him over Kamala and the horrible way she again treated Justice Kavanaugh. That was a horrible event. I thought it was terrible for her. I thought it was terrible for our nation. I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, the most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate." Catherine Garcia

6:30 p.m.

President Trump's campaign may be calling her "Phony Kamala" now, but Trump once liked Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) enough to twice donate to her re-election campaign for California attorney general.

The Sacramento Bee first reported the donations in 2019, but they are receiving renewed interest now that former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has chosen Harris to be his running mate.

Before she became a senator, Harris was attorney general of California; she was first elected in 2010, and was re-elected four years later. Trump made two donations to Harris' re-election campaign — $5,000 in 2011 and $1,000 in 2013. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014.

A spokesperson for Harris' campaign previously told McClatchy that in 2015, Harris donated the $6,000 she received from Trump to a nonprofit organization that advocates for civil and human rights for Central Americans. Catherine Garcia

5:53 p.m.

History has its eyes on Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) — in more ways than one.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, announced Harris as his pick to hold the position he once held under former president Barack Obama on Tuesday.

The former California attorney general is rightly being recognized as the first Black woman to sit on a major political party's national ticket, but the historic nature of Harris' position contains multitudes.

To start, Harris is the first person with Indian heritage to run on a national presidential ticket. Her late mother was born in India, and Harris has credited her maternal grandfather, a former Indian diplomat, with helping her to appreciate the "importance of democracy and a government that represents the people — all the people,” Politico reports.

Harris's nomination also marks the first time a major nominee has graduated from an HBCU, a.k.a Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Harris graduated from Howard University in 1986, receiving her B.A. after studying political science and economics.

Howard University president Wayne A.I. Frederick released a statement saying the senator's nomination "represents a milestone opportunity for our democracy to acknowledge the leadership Black women have always exhibited, but has too often been ignored.”

Harris went on to attend the University of California, Hastings where she received her J.D., making her the first person to sit on the Democratic ticket in over 35 years who did not attend an Ivy League school.

If Harris and Biden succeed in ousting President Trump from office, Harris will also hold the honor of being the first female and the first Asian American to be elected to national office, but we'll save that conversation for another day. Marianne Dodson

5:51 p.m.

The old boss approves.

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday said his old right hand man and the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, "nailed" his running mate selection. Earlier in the day, Biden tapped Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate in the race against President Trump, and Obama said he "couldn't be more thrilled," describing Harris as "an ideal partner" for Biden.

Not only has Obama known Harris for many years, he's been an active supporter of her political career for a while. Back in 2010, when Harris was running for California attorney general, she was the only down-ballot Democrat the then-president raised funds for, Politico reported at the time. Tim O'Donnell

5:27 p.m.

There's a long way to go before California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has to seriously contemplate filling Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-Calif.) seat in the upper chamber. After all, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, who was selected Tuesday as former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate, will need to be part of a victory in November's general election before her Senate seat actually opens. But that hasn't stopped some speculation about who could replace her.

One of the candidates people are talking about is Harris' fellow vice presidential contender, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who has also been touted as a potential replacement for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) one day. Bass appears to have been seriously considered for the Biden ticket, but it seems unlikely that was her last chance to move into an even more prominent role.

A few other names have been floated as possible Harris replacements, including Bass' colleagues in the House, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.). Tim O'Donnell

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