What's the Latest Development?

President Obama wants the government to show some initiative in bringing manufacturing jobs back from overseas. That could mean cutting taxes for manufacturers making goods in the US, taking away tax breaks for companies who move production overseas, doubling a tax deduction for makers of high-tech goods, supporting businesses which invest in areas where factories are closing, expanding worker training programs and establishing a new task force to enforce trade rules and intellectual property rights.

What's the Big Idea?

Many economists say the US can, at best, expect modest manufacturing growth given ambitious government efforts. That is because more efficient technology requires firms to employ fewer workers and because wages remain relatively low, though climbing, in foreign countries like China. Countries with large manufacturing sectors like Germany, Japan and China already give large tax breaks and substantial financial support to domestic companies. Some economists would prefer to concentrate on developing infrastructure and education.

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