Intel Corporation's wafer fabrication facility in Chandler, Arizona. Photo taken November, 2018, by Carol M. Highsmith. Photo obtained from the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin helped lead a bipartisan effort in Congress to pass the CHIPS and Science Act. She served on the conference committee that negotiated differences between earlier House and Senate versions of the final bill.

Baldwin said: “Manufacturers across Wisconsin are supporting this bipartisan legislation to boost the domestic production of semiconductor chips (used for cars, cell phones, computers, kitchen appliances, agricultural and military equipment and more) because they know it is essential to moving our economy forward. I voted for this legislation because it will not only support Wisconsin manufacturing, but it will also strengthen our domestic supply chain and help lower costs for businesses and consumers.”

In rare unanimity, the AFL-CIO, Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) issued strong endorsements of the CHIPS and Science Act. NAM said: “Manufacturers across all sectors rely on access to chips, so this bill will help strengthen American supply chains thanks to its investments in domestic semiconductor production – as well as its funding for programs to support the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce, advanced technology development, excavation of critical minerals, clean energy and more.”

However, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) continues to oppose the common good. No endorsement of the bill or support for passage by Congress. WMC stands apart from national business groups and the Milwaukee-based Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) which hailed the bill’s passage. AEM said: “Senator Baldwin has been a trusted partner for America’s equipment manufacturers … . (And this) bill will reassert American leadership in microelectronic innovation and manufacturing … .”

Seventeen GOP senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and 24 House Republicans voted yes. Why? Simple – supply chain issues, thousands of new manufacturing jobs and national security. New York GOP Representative John Katko, supporting the bill, said: “It’s a no-brainer that more Republicans should have voted for it. Politics got in the way.” Case in point. Most House Republicans were upset about a likely reconciliation bill on climate change and health care. All Wisconsin GOP representatives voted no in contrast to their Democratic colleagues. Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson as usual turned his back on Wisconsin’s manufacturers and working families.

Johnson, defying logic, said the CHIPS bill would “fuel the flames of inflation.” The so-called businessman senator does not apparently grasp the law of supply and demand. The U.S. once made 40% of the world’s chips, but now only manufactures 12%. Most of our chips are made in Asia. Supply chain shortages of chips shut down U.S. manufacturing of cars, leading to price increases. Same for other products made in America. Baldwin, unlike Johnson, understands pocketbook issues.

She said: “Wisconsin has strong potential to be a growth center because we have world-class research universities and a Made in Wisconsin manufacturing workforce that knows how to make products.” For example, the CHIPS bill could fund a regional technology hub in Wisconsin “to develop new technology, create jobs and expand innovation.” Senator Baldwin stands up for Wisconsin.

– Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C., for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

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