The Obameter

Double funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a program that encourages manufacturing efficiency

"The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with manufacturers across the country to improve efficiency, implement new technology and strengthen company growth. This highly-successful program has engaged in more than 350,000 projects across the country and in 2006 alone, helped create and protect over 50,000 jobs. But despite this success, funding for MEP has been slashed by the Bush administration. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double funding for the MEP so its training centers can continue to bolster the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers."


Funding for manufacturing program is up, but not double

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to double funding for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a program run by the U.S. Commerce Department that helps U.S. manufacturing firms capitalize on business opportunities and make them more competitive in the global markets.

Manufacturing jobs actually represent a relative bright spot in the otherwise dismal national job picture. In June, we gave a Mostly True rating to a comment by Austan Goolsbee -- the former chairman of Obama"s Council of Economic Advisers -- in which he noted that "manufacturing is having its best employment year in almost 15 years."

Let"s look at the year-by-year budget for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

For fiscal year 2009 -- under a budget proposed by President George W. Bush and passed by a Democratic Congress -- the program received $89.6 million. For fiscal 2010 -- under a budget prepared by Bush but signed by Obama after passage by a Democratic Congress -- the program"s budget increased to $110.2 million.

Then, for fiscal 2011 -- under a budget designed by Obama and passed by a Democratic Congress -- the budget increased to $125.0 million.

Finally, the Obama Administration has proposed a $142.6 million budget for fiscal year 2012. This budget has not yet been enacted, so the final budget figure for the program is not known.

If you compare the last entirely pre-Obama budget (fiscal 2009) to the most recent enacted budget (fiscal 2011), the funding rose by about 40 percent. If you compare the fiscal 2009 level to the administration"s fiscal 2012 proposal, the increase would be 59 percent.

However, since the Republicans now control the House of Representatives -- and since big federal spending cuts are required under the deal earlier this year to lift the debt ceiling -- it is by no means clear that Obama will get his proposed increase. In other words, the current climate makes it difficult for the president to fulfill the letter of his promise -- to double the program"s funding.

Still, barring major cuts in the enacted 2012 budget, Obama has managed to increase funding for the program pretty substantially during his first two years in office but failed to double it. So we rate this promise a Compromise.


U.S. Department of Commerce, budget in brief, fiscal years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

E-mail interview with Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Sept. 30, 2011

Not quite double, but a start

President Obama promised to double funding for the Hollings Manufacturing Extensions Partnership (MPE) program, and his budget for 2010 puts him closer to fulfilling that promise.

The Hollings Manufacturing Extensions Partnership is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which in turn falls under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The partnership, which consists of federal, state and local organizations, provides business information and resources to U.S. manufacturing firms to make them more competitive in the global markets.

The Bush administration allocated $110 million in funding for the MPE program during 2009. In 2010, MPE will receive $124.7 million, a 13.4 percent increase. According to the Department of Commerce, increased funds will "expand technology and business resources to help strengthen these manufacturers' competitiveness in the global market, as well as support activities concerning energy efficient manufacturing practices."

Though a 13.4 percent increase is hardly a doubling of the budget, it puts Obama closer to his original goal. We rate the promise In the Works.


U.S. Government Printing Office, Department of Commerce FY 2010 Budget , accessed Nov. 4, 2009

National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2008-2010 Appropriations Summary , accessed Nov. 4, 2009

Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Organization Summary , accessed Nov. 4, 2009