I’m not sure whether I’ve ever heard lean principles discussed as part of a political campaign, and I certainly haven’t heard it during the current presidential campaign.
However, Barack Obama recently released what he called his manufacturing agenda. And a couple of points caught my eye.
The agenda covers a wide range of topics, from environmental issues to education to trade policies, all from the perspective of how they relate to manufacturing.
I will not try to assess whether the bulk of these proposals would help or hurt manufacturing and the country. That’s not the focus of this blog. I’ll leave that to others. (The National Association of Manufacturers has already offered its comments – some positive, some not.)
But two of Obama’s points got my attention:
- Create an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to identify and invest in the most compelling advanced manufacturing strategies.
- Double funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
(By the way, I’m not at all sure the federal government should have a fund to invest in manufacturing strategies. I tend to believe that is more a function of free markets. But the subject is at least worth discussing.)
Obama’s mention of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership is more on point. The nationwide network of MEPs has a long history of assisting manufacturers, often by helping them implement lean strategies.
He says the Bush administration has slashed MEP funding, and he would double it. He doesn’t list any figures.
His statement is correct as far as it goes. In presenting the federal budget, the Bush administration, at least in most years, has proposed cutting MEP funding. However, in most years, Congress has revised the budget to increase MEP funding, or at least keep it stable.
Regardless, it is good to hear that Obama supports the MEP program.
Oh, and I did take a look at the websites for both John McCain and Hillary Clinton. I couldn’t find anything on either site specifically about manufacturing.
Which candidate (if any) do you believe would best champion the cause of lean manufacturing, or at least strengthen U.S. manufacturing?