By Representative Michele Bachmann
When it comes to federal tax reform, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann says she wants put the Internal Revenue Service in the back seat and drive in change.
"The current (federal) tax code is 3.8 million words -- it's a mess -- and its' one big bundle of job-killing, special-interest rules and regulations. That's all it is, and we can simplify that system," Bachmann, a former federal tax attorney, said Monday as she outlined her plan to spur economic growth. "I would like to be able to lead the debate on changing our tax code."
Bachmann spoke Monday before a crowd of 50 employees at Sukup Manufacturing Co., an agricultural equipment producer here, on the first stop of a two-day tour of small businesses. She is campaigning to win the Republican nomination for president. Her campaign stop came on the same day that President Barack Obama unveiled his own $3 trillion long-term deficit reduction plan.
The Minnesota congresswoman said she would focus on reining in spending in Washington, D.C., before revamping the revenue system.
"Imagine in your own life, think of what your wage is, now imagine if you spent double what your wage is," she said. "You probably wouldn't make it more than a couple months -- I know I wouldn't."
Bachmann wore safety glasses and shook hands with the welders and machine operators before delivering her 10-minute speech. While her Republican opponents already have laid out their economic blueprints, the visit gave Bachmann an opportunity to offer Iowans her plan for business growth.
Former state Rep. Steve Sukup, R-Sheffield, who is also the company's vice president and chief financial officer, guided the congresswoman through rows of grain bin support beams, answering her questions about financial conditions and consumer confidence. He said he came away impressed by "her passion for the fiscal responsibility in D.C."
Sukup has not yet endorsed a candidate, but said he likes Bachmann.
"I think our economy can recover and hopefully recover fairly quickly, but (voters) want somebody in there that's going to help balance the budget instead of spending more and more dollars," Sukup said.
Obama on Monday announced a plan to cut the nation's $14-trillion deficit, which includes a new minimum tax rate for individuals earning more than $1 million a year. He called the proposal the "Buffet rule," a reference to billionaire investor Warren Buffet, who has insisted that the wealthy should be paying more taxes.
Bachmann denounced the plan as a gimmick.
"If Warren Buffett believes he doesn't pay enough taxes, then he should write a check today to the Treasury, but he and the president shouldn't enact warfare on the millions of small businesses, on charities and on middle-class America with increased tax burdens," she said.
Bachmann also took aim Monday at the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as she has throughout her campaign.
"The bottom line of that health care bill is this: for wonderful employees, like all of you here at Sukup, it's going to mean you're all going to have to pay a lot more and you're going to get a lot less," she said.
Sukup said he had printed all 2,000 pages of the federal health care reform bill, and is waiting to see how the new rules and regulations will impact his plant.
Bachmann said she is the only member of Congress to file a bill to repeal the act. She said she understands the effect on small business from personal experience.
"I'm a former federal tax lawyer and a job-creator myself," Bachmann said, referring to the Christian counseling service she owns and operates with her husband, Marcus, a therapist. "The formula is actually quite simple."
She called for a lower corporate tax rate and reduced regulatory burden. She also called for repeal of both the "death tax" levied on the estate of the deceased and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which made sweeping changes in regulations to the financial services industry.
Sukup Manufacturing President Charles Sukup, Steve's brother and a former chairman of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, the state's largest business trade group representing more than 1,400 businesses that employ more than 300,000 Iowans, said manufacturers would show Bachmann how Iowa businesses are impacted by federal regulation.
"We build into our tax codes and our whole policy things that incentivize companies to build and manufacture here in the United States, rather than outsourcing," he said. "We prefer not to outsource and we don't do as much outsourcing. Our philosophy is to keep as much as we can here."
Larry Jurgena of Hampton, who works in office sales for Sukup, said he likes Bachmann.
"She has some good ideas and I like her energy," he said.
However, Jurgena said he is also interested in the business plans offered by former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Bachmann was scheduled to visit three Iowa factories during her tour. After Sukup, she went to OMJC Signal Inc. in Waterloo. On Wednesday, she will be at Amend Packing Co. in Des Moines.