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Clinton to highlight proposals to aid manufacturing during St. Louis stop

Hillary Clinton at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant June 23 2015.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s choice of a St. Louis union hall for Friday’s visit here fits in with her campaign pledge to focus on rebuilding the nation’s manufacturing base and the good-paying jobs that often go with it.

Clinton plans to address supporters at the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Hall, 2319 Chouteau Ave., just south of downtown.

The Friday evening event is open to the public, but those interested in attending must register on her website. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

Friday's location also is politically significant. Any Democrat running for president needs strong labor support. particularly in urban areas such as St. Louis.

Clinton's director overseeing her campaign's state-level operations in all 50 states, Marlon Marshall, said in an interview that Missouri and its 84 Democratic delegates -- most of them at stake in the March 15 primary -- will be crucial in her quest to nail down the Democratic nomination for president.

Adviser lauds manufacturing as economic engine

In a conference call today, adviser Gene Sperling – former director of the White House Economic Council – told reporters that Clinton is proposing tax credits and other incentives as a way to encourage businesses to build their products in the United States, instead of overseas.

She plans to roll out some of the particulars at events today in New Hampshire and Wednesday in Iowa.

“Manufacturing punches above its weight in terms of innovation and high-paying jobs,’’ Sperling said. “It creates larger innovation benefits for the economy as a whole.”

Although manufacturing makes up only 12 percent of the nation’s GDP, Sperling said the National Science Foundation has concluded that manufacturing creates 70 percent of the nation’s research and development, and produces 90 percent of the nation’s patents.

Sperling said that some of Clinton’s tax-break proposals would likely most benefit communities facing an immediate loss of a manufacturing business. But the tax breaks also could help cities like St. Louis, which were hit with manufacturing losses decades ago.

Among other things, Clinton is proposing a 40 percent tax credit over seven years for investors who help create or preserve manufacturing jobs. Another proposal would protect such investments from capital gains taxes, if the investments are held for at least five years.

Sperling said her tax breaks would cost "a few billion dollars a year," but could easily be paid for by putting other regulations or laws in place to curb or prevent companies from avoiding paying federal taxes.

In particular, Clinton wants to crack down on "inversions,'' where companies like pharmaceutical giant Pfizer -- which used to have a major operation in St. Louis County -- merge with a foreign company and move their headquarters overseas in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Sperling said that Clinton views such actions as unfair to other U.S. companies who were committed to keeping their operations, including manufacturing plants, in the United States.

Clinton national press secretary said such incentives and restrictions fit in with her pledge that, if elected president, a key objective “will be ensuring that we raise incomes for middle-class households.”

Campaign touts Missouri's importance -- in primary

Marshall, who oversees Clinton's state operations, said there's no question that Missouri and its 84 delegates are important to her strategy for winning her party's nomination. He declined to say whether Clinton planned to make any more visits in the state, but emphasized the significance of Friday's appearance here.

Clinton also will be attending a private fundraising event, although her campaign isn't mentioning the time or the place.

Marshall said the campaign now is focused on the two dozen or so states that will be holding primaries up to, and including, March 15. "Missouri is very important state in the primary,'' he said.

“Making sure that we win Missouri is a priority for us and I think you’ll see that, as we keep organizing in the state and working with our volunteers locally and rolling out policies that matter to folks there, right there in Missouri.”

Marshall -- who grew up in Richmond Heights and attended Horton Watkins High School in Ladue -- didn't say how significant Missouri might be in the 2016 general election. The state's voters haven't sided with the Democratic presidential nominee since 1996, when Bill Clinton was seeking -- and won -- re-election.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.