ABC News’ Michael Conte reports:
At the premiere of “American Made Movie,” a documentary about manufacturing in the United States, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) had some strong language about standing up for domestic manufacturing.
King called it “bullsh**” that other countries with weaker labor and environmental regulations are able to sell goods in the U.S. before improving manufacturing standards. In less intense terms, King also claimed these practices unfairly harm domestic manufacturing.
King’s remarks came before the premiere of the documentary, hosted by the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
The film documents the decline of American manufacturing by following the endeavors of a variety of American entrepreneurs and businesses, and briefly focuses on New Balance, the last major athletic shoe company in the U.S. The film is currently touring in theaters across the country.
New Balance is based in Massachusetts and owns a factory in King’s state of Maine, in the town of Skowhegan, which employs about 900 employees.
King said he wanted to see the government show “a preference for American-made footwear,” such as New Balance shoes, whose factory he visited on Monday.
King defended the need for a thriving manufacturing sector, saying, “You can’t build an economy on taking in each other’s laundry. You’ve got to make something.”
King is hopeful about President Obama’s recent pivot to the economy and his focus on manufacturing job growth, calling the president’s proposals for tax incentives for domestic manufacturing and clean energy “part of the future of our economy.”
“I think they’re working on positive policies,” he said.
Though he was quick to say he’s not a “protectionist,” King wants to press for the U.S. to adopt a trade policy that insists other countries employ higher labor and environmental standards.
“I want to see immediate, measurable goals before they get access to our markets…. We are in a strong bargaining position because everybody wants to sell here.”
King believes that the benefits of increased globalization need to be balanced against the costs.
“I know economists can argue and they’ll throw all these numbers around, but I tell you, I go through these small towns in Maine that used to have thriving factories and they’re devastated.”
King wants Congress to meet with people from smaller towns whose economies have been hurt by the decline in manufacturing rather than doing all their work in a “doing-fine place” like Washington, D.C.
“If Congress met in Dayton, Ohio, or Schenectady, New York, or Cleveland, or Detroit, there would be a hell of a lot more attention paid to job creation and the future of manufacturing.”
Formerly governor of Maine, King continues to serves as an independent in the Senate out of a belief in greater partisan dialogue.