While the EFCA bill proposed in 2007 ultimately was not enacted, the unions that heavily favored in Obama in the general election are likely to push for the bill to be put back on the top of the administration's agenda in 2009. Without a filibuster-proof "super-majority" in the Senate, however, Democrats may be unable to overcome determined opposition to the bill's passage through the upper house. Perhaps the area where the new administration could have the greatest impact on the supply chain is in changing the psychology within U.S. manufacturing. "I don't think the idea that ‘change is possible' exists in the manufacturing sector or in business in general," says Actronix' Brunell. "There's a tendency to throw up one's hands and either conclude right away that you're not going to buy American because you can't find a cost-competitive solution in the United States, or that you're not going to attempt to compete in that environment because you've given up on the idea that you can be cost competitive yourself." Brunell would like to see the president use his position as "cheerleader in chief" to work more actively to change this mindset. "The bully pulpit can be used, first, to convince people that change is possible in manufacturing, and then to create the infrastructure necessary to drive that belief forward," Brunell says.
Note: Chris Moye, managing director with global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal Business Consulting, was also interviewed for this article. The author is grateful for Mr. Moye's contribution to the development of the themes covered in the article.