WASHINGTON - Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce Committee, today expressed serious concerns about President Bush's proposed 2005 budget and its likely impact on domestic manufacturers.

"The President talks about creating good factory jobs but instead he's cutting the very programs designed to do just that," said Kerry, who is also Ranking Member on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. "At a time when America's manufacturers are struggling to regain market share and recover from devastating job losses we ought to be strengthening manufacturing assistance programs, not crippling or eliminating them."

Kerry's comments reflected his concern over the President's proposal to continue underfunding the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, to terminate the Advanced Technology Program (ATP), and to eliminate SBA funding for U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs), while increasing overall federal spending by 4.1 percent.

The MEP program, which assists struggling small- and medium-size manufacturers to modernize, increase productivity, and compete in the demanding global market, is still reeling from 2004 budget cuts of 63 percent -- which resulted in 28,500 lost jobs and $2.3 billion in additional costs to small manufacturers. The President's 2005 request will further impair this vitally important federal program, which Harvard University's renowned School of Government considers one of the top 50 programs in government.

The President's request also closes ATP -- which has been very effective in accelerating the development of innovative technologies -- and eliminates SBA funding for USEACs, which provide manufacturers with export financing and consulting. The President's budget for fiscal year 2005 was released on February 2, 2004. The Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will hold a hearing to address concerns about the budget on Thursday, February 12, 2004, at 9:30 a.m. For more information call (202) 224-8496.

To read about John Kerry's comprehensive legislation to restore American manufacturing and create jobs, please click here.