CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The polls are long closed and the votes are counted. An election-weary country has turned its attention to the holidays, happy that political ads have disappeared from the airwaves.
But the beat in Washington goes on. Politicians spent a substantial amount of money winning new seats and defending old ones this cycle. So after the most expensive election in American history, I've just got to ask: What did all of that money go to?
It went to ads. Ads about jobs.
With images of America's factory floors providing the backdrop, political advertising about creating jobs, addressing outsourcing to foreign competitors and cracking down on China dominated television sets during Election 2012 -- a reflection of voters' legitimate concerns about the health of the economy.
These ads played everywhere. In the Charleston TV market alone, the presidential campaigns and their affiliates spent more than $2.1 million on ads discussing job growth and more than $250,000 on ads focusing on trade.
Nationwide, the contest's bill for advertising on these issues was staggering, totaling more than $700 million.
That's quite a sum. And the fact that the campaigns spent so much money on these issues suggests that they knew what voters know: We need a jobs plan, one focused on making things in America.
In the last decade, we've lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs to overseas competitors, particularly China. Simultaneously, our trade deficit with that country has grown. The deficit with China for September 2012 was $29.1 billion -- the second highest monthly deficit yet recorded. For the whole of 2011, in fact, our trade deficit with China came to a record $295 billion, and we're on track to exceed that number in 2012.
America's manufacturing sector isn't easily replaced. It makes up about 12 percent of our gross domestic product, accounts for nearly 75 percent of our research and development, two-thirds of our exports of goods and services, and nearly 12 million good-paying jobs. This industrial capacity is unwisely conceded.
So instead of continuing to forfeit a crucial sector of our economy to a global competitor, what can we do about it?