During his August recess tour of Georgia, the constant theme has been jobs for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
The second-term Republican, who is a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Six,” toured the EFACEC plant Thursday and castigated what he sees as President Obama’s inaction on jobs. Chambliss and fellow Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson have been conducting town hall meetings across the state.
“We’ve been focusing on jobs. That’s what people are concerned about,” Chambliss said. “The president has had two and a half years to do something about jobs, and he’s done nothing. We’ve spent over a trillion dollars in stimulus money, and we’ve seen the unemployment rate go up rather than go down.”
Chambliss met with EFACEC officials, led by Jorge Guerra, the company’s chief operations officer in the U.S., and spoke with workers at the plant.
“A couple of the guys I talked to said they had lost their jobs and you were a Godsend to them and their families,” Chambliss told EFACEC representatives. “It made my heart feel so good to talk to those two guys who had lost their jobs. They were well-trained, well-educated guys who just got caught in a squeeze.”
It’s private investment that should be fostered, and not more government spending, to spur employment growth, according to Chambliss. The U.S. unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, and Georgia’s jobless measurement topped 10.1 percent.
“As long as we’re dependent on the government to create jobs, then it’s not going to work,” he said. “It’s guys like Jorge and this company that need to be incentivized to invest capital and expand their workforce.”
EFACEC’s Rincon facility has 230 employees and they will add 12 more next week. Guerra said they want to double their workforce in the next two years and boasted that everything in the plant is American-made.
“We are very proud of being 100 percent made in the U.S.A. That is something that we are really, really proud of,” he said. “We want to be about quality and we know that’s what this country buys.”
With much of the nation’s power generating and transmission sites aging, Guerra said it’s imperative to take a close look at the electrical infrastructure.
“We are creating a legacy of technology, something that for more than 40 years a factory was not building,” he said. “This is even a factor of national security. Look at our electrical infrastructure. Seventy-five percent of our transmission and generating sites are 40 years old. We need to replace those before they start failing.”
Chambliss said the U.S. has a higher corporate tax rate than any other industrialized nation, aside from Japan, and it’s crippling companies that want to increase their exports. EFACEC currently exports approximately 25 percent of the transformers it makes and is looking to up that percentage.
“When we talk about reducing federal spending, that’s a huge step,” he said. “When we talk about reducing entitlements, that’s a huge step. But the real point of the package is reforming the tax code. That’s the kind of incentive the president can put in place, and it doesn’t cost money.”