President Obama addressed a joint session of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives tonight, unveiling his American Jobs Act. Afterwards, Senator Murkowski responded to the President's plan:
"Alaskans, I had hoped that tonight the President would hear the majority of Americans asking for solid, comprehensive solutions that can get bipartisan support -- but tonight the President offered us nothing new.
"President Obama spent a lot of time sharing his plan with the country, but there was one thing you didn't hear: the word "stimulus.' Although the plan we heard tonight sounds a lot like a replay of his 2009 stimulus bill, even the President has now come to realize what Americans have known for some time, it simply didn't work. $800 billion in federal spending got us where we are today -- 9.1% unemployment, stagnant economic growth and a $15 trillion national debt. So while he avoids the word, he's reheating the same failed ideas.
"The President says he wants to improve roads and bridges. That's called a Highway Bill, and Congress is already working to reauthorize that program because all of us recognize and support the need to continue improving our road and highway infrastructure. But even the President admitted in June that "shovel ready" projects where easier to talk about, than to find. We aren't really creating new jobs by just talking about exiting programs Congress is already well down the road to approving.
"The President wants free trade. I agree. He wants to see South Koreans driving Fords -- but that ball is squarely in his court. By law, the Free Trade Agreements are negotiated by the President and then transmitted to Congress for approval. The White House has been sitting on them for over two years. Last year, Alaska exported $477 million worth of seafood, minerals and forest products to South Korea. A Free Trade Agreement with South Korea would bring even more to our state.
"The President will give tax credits to businesses that hire people off unemployment. That does nothing to create a need for those workers. If you're a restaurant owner on the Kenai, why would you hire a new waiter or cook if everyone is still saving money eating at home?
"The President also wants to extend the 2% Social Security payroll tax holiday for employees for another year. I support efforts to put more money in the pockets of Americans during these difficult economic times. But why stop there? If we're going to extend the payroll tax cut, we should also address the alternative minimum tax. The current exemption expires at the end of this year, and if we don't extend it, many middle class families would see their taxes rise substantially. Additionally, an optional deduction for state and local sales taxes expires at the end of the year. If we don't extend that, families have one less deduction they can take -- and this is a particularly important one for our state. We also need to remember that the research and development tax credit and accelerated depreciation provisions are set to expire at the end of the year. Many businesses, who we rely on for jobs, would have to pay higher taxes if we don't extend these provisions. If businesses are paying more in taxes, they have less to pay employees.
"The President also says he wants to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses, but the facts don't support it. His administration's regulatory agenda identifies over 200 new regulations that annually are expected to cost in excess of $100 million each. At the present time, six rules have been proposed to the public that each have an estimated annual cost in excess of $1.0 billion. These environmental, financial, labor and other federal regulatory burdens stifle the critical investments we need to grow the economy and to create jobs."