PELLA – Five Republicans seeking their party’s nomination promised lower taxes, less regulation and greater trade opportunities for American industry during a forum hosted by manufacturing trade association.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who highlighted his record of creating 1 million net new jobs over the past 10 years, set the tone for the forum.
President Barack Obama, he said in Pella Nov. 1, “doesn’t believe in free markets. The president believes in stimulating markets with federal dollars.
“We know that doesn’t work,” Perry said. The way to stimulate markets is by not over-taxing, over-regulating and over-litigating so businesses are confident in risking capital to create jobs and expand markets.
“It’s worked in Texas for a decade,” Perry said. “If it will work in Texas, it will work in this economy.”
Although the Gallup Poll’s October Job Creation Index released moments before the forum began showed an increase from +12 to +14 after three consecutive months of job deterioration, Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said the industry needs help.
Manufacturing produces 21 percent of the U.S. economy and 60 percent of the nation’s exports, Timmons said at the start of the forum in a warehouse at Vermeer Corporation. However, it is squeezed by a tax and regulatory climate that makes the cost of manufacturing in the U.S. 20 percent more expensive than anywhere else – even after taking out labor costs.
The Obama re-election campaign called the complaints from Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum simply “Republican political rhetoric.”
It cited a Bloomberg News analysis that found Obama has passed fewer regulations than the George W. Bush administration and at a lower cost than the annual high mark for regulatory costs set by President George H.W. Bush or regulatory costs in the last year of President Ronald Reagan’s administration.
“This news kind of makes all those claims about ‘job-crushing government regulations’ seem like what they are: political talking points with no basis in the truth,” said John Krause, Obama for America Iowa spokesman.
“Totally unbelievable,” was Gingrich’s reaction. “If you can believe that, you can believe almost everything. They must just live in a fantasyland every day down there at the White House.”
The GOP candidates agreed on most points. They called for lower personal and corporate taxes, more energy exploration and energy independence, and less regulations.
“We need to get the federal government off our backs when it comes to taxing,” Bachmann said, adding later, “Profits are the true stimulus.”
There were differences.
Some would eliminate corporate taxes. For example, Santorum would eliminate the corporate income tax “for making things in America” and on U.S. revenue brought back to this country from overseas if it was invested in plants and equipment.
Paul agreed there should be no tax on repatriated money. He also argued that lowering the corporate tax rates benefits consumers by stimulating consumer demand and job creation because corporations pass their tax liability along to consumers.
There were differences on tax incentives for energy production with Perry and Paul showing little support for them.
Santorum would eliminate tax incentives for most energy, but keep the wind tax credits “because I understand the clean air impact.”
Bachmann would “pull back the credits and let industry be more self-supporting.” Gingrich said it’s better to invest tax incentives in domestic energy production than paying foreign suppliers.
After the 90-minute forum, Mary Vermeer Andringa, president and CEO of Vermeer, said the candidates had shown a good grasp of manufacturers’ concerns.
“They all want a better environment for private industry,” she said.
She would have liked to hear more discussion of the skilled workforce issue. “It’s a big issue for manufacturers.”
About 5 percent of the jobs posted by manufacturing forms go unfilled die to “unavailable skills,” she said.
Gingrich spoke to that issue, calling for job training to be a requirement of unemployment compensation.
“If you took the time we’ve paid people to do nothing for the last six years, we could have the best trained workforce in the world,” Gingrich said. State and federal benefits typically provide 99 weeks of benefits – long enough to earn an associate degree, he said.
The forum will be rebroadcast on PBS’s WORLD channel and can be seen online here.
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