Sen. Mike Lee: Utah's manufacturing sector is a middle class family-making machine

October 6, 2017

Since the founding of our country, manufacturing has always been a cornerstone of our economy.

Here in Utah, we have over 3,000 manufacturing firms employing over 125,000 people at an average salary of over $65,000 a year.

Utah’s manufacturing sector is a middle class family-making machine.

Which is why I am so honored to celebrate Manufacturing Day — an annual celebration of manufacturing when local employers open their facilities to the community so that more people can understand the benefits and opportunities that manufacturing provides.

Last year I was lucky to visit Lifetime Products, a manufacturer of outdoor furniture and sports equipment in Clearfield, Utah.

Lifetime is a quintessentially American company, founded by a dad who made a basketball hoop for his kids in the backyard before perfecting that model and selling it through newspaper classified ads to other families in his community.

Today, Lifetime sells a full line of basketball hoops, kayaks, sheds, tables and chairs to retailers in over 80 countries. And the vast majority of the parts for each and every product is manufactured right here in the United States.

When I visited Lifetime’s manufacturing plant in Clearfield, I saw rolls of American-made steel stacked in warehouses waiting to be turned into basketball rims, poles, sheds and tables.

Some of that steel might even have been made right here in Utah at one of Nucor’s three steel manufacturing and fabricating facilities. Nucor, the largest steel producer in the United States, has 23 steel production facilities across the country and goes toe-to-toe with international steel producers every day.

As a constitutional conservative, I do not believe the federal government should be in the business of designing industrial policy that benefits some sectors of the economy over others.

But I also strongly believe that the federal government should not burden American businesses that have to compete with foreign competitors in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, there are far too many federal policies that make it more difficult for Utah manufacturers to compete worldwide.

For starters, the United States currently has the world’s highest corporate tax rate. True, many corporations don’t pay the full rate due to loopholes in the tax code. But that is only an argument for eliminating loopholes and lowering rates. Republicans in Congress are currently working on a tax reform plan that would do exactly that.

The vast administrative state of the federal government (including but not limited to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Labor Department, and the Transportation Department) also inflicts between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in regulatory costs on the American economy every year. These costs are borne by all Americans in the form of higher prices for goods and services. At present, Congress has virtually no way to stop new regulatory costs from being devised by bureaucrats in the administrative state.

However, if Congress were to pass the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny” (aka REINS) Act, then Congress would be able to veto any new federal regulation that inflicts more than $100 million in costs on the U.S. economy.

Manufacturers like Lifetime Products also would benefit from the bipartisan Reinforcing American-Made Products Act, which would set one national standard for the “Made in the USA” label, thus making it easier for American consumers to support American manufacturers.

United States manufacturing output is at an all-time high — and it is still growing. The sector has a bright future, which you may just be a part of. Please visit to learn more about Manufacturing Day and participating businesses in your area.

Originally published in The Deseret News.