Tuesday and Wednesday nights’ Democratic presidential candidate debates covered a wide range of topics, including President Trump’s tariff actions and climate change. One candidate tied the two subjects together by promoting his plan to create a chief manufacturing officer for the United States.
In a question about a proposal to eliminate gas-powered cars by 2040, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan said that he would create the CMO position. The officer would connect the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation with the private sector, investors and emerging tech companies in order to corner the electric vehicle market. "I want us to dominate the battery market, make those here in the United States … the charging stations, solar panels," Ryan said on Tuesday during the first of two debates hosted by CNN.
Ryan, co-chair of the House Manufacturing Caucus, first introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in May to create the CMO position. “There is no doubt that we need a wide-ranging strategy if we are to strengthen manufacturing in America. The CMO will help us get there by providing industry-specific advice on tax policies, infrastructure, transportation, regulations and workforce development,” Ryan said in a statement at the time.
The CMO would also develop a national manufacturing strategy to “establish a clear path for growth in the manufacturing sector,” Ryan said.
‘Get This Thing Done’
During Tuesday night’s debate in Detroit, Ryan suggested the president was "onto something" with his tariff policies in combatting Chinese trade practices. “I think we need some targeted response against China,” he said. “But you know how you beat China? You out-compete 'em. And that's why I'd put a chief manufacturing officer in place to make sure that we rebuild the manufacturing base.”
Adding, “As I said earlier, China dominates 60% of the solar panel market. They dominate 50% to 60% of the electric vehicle market. We're going to make 10 million electric vehicles somewhere in the world in the next 10 years. I want them made in the United States. That's why I have a chief manufacturing officer that will sit in the White House and help drive this agenda.”
In an interview with news outlets in the “spin room” following Tuesday’s debate, Ryan expanded on his CMO idea: “Today it’s about advanced manufacturing. Today it’s about green energy. Today it addresses the climate crisis. Today it addresses the job issue. So, I think having a chief manufacturing officer [whose] sole goal is to build manufacturing around green energy, there’s a way we get this thing done,” he said.
Before Tuesday’s debate Ryan was coming in at less than 1% in most national polls. Under the Democratic National Committee’s rules, viable candidates must have had 130,000 unique donors spread across at least 20 states and poll above 2% in four reputable national surveys to participate in the debate.