By Rep Leonard Lancy
President Obama recently unveiled the details of his $447 billion spending jobs stimulus plan proposal -- a package of tax cuts for employers and employees, unemployment benefits, infrastructure spending and various government spending measures.
I support a careful examination of the costs and benefits of the President's latest plan as well as consideration of alternative measures that may more effectively create private-sector jobs. There are some elements of the President's bill that I believe could garner bipartisan support: the extension of a payroll-tax cut in 2012; passage of a highway bill; changes to help the long-term unemployed.
I am, however, concerned about other elements of the President's plan --including increased "stimulus" spending that historically has not been effective as I would like in job-creation and the President's proposal to pay for his bill entirely with tax increases.
The largest portion of the tax increases is limiting itemized deductions for families with more than $250,000 in yearly taxable income and individuals with more than $200,000, including those for home-mortgage interest, employer-sponsored health care benefits, state and local property taxes and charitable donations. The White House says that these measures would raise roughly $400 billion over 10 years.
These tax increases would disproportionately affect New Jersey's working families and small businesses. These tax increases will hurt, not help, the Garden State's struggling economy. And Congress has continually rejected tax increases on individuals and small businesses in a bipartisan fashion. I would urge President Obama instead to identify federal spending cuts, such as ethanol subsidies that I believe are wasteful and should be eliminated.
Like so many Americans, I believe President Obama and leaders in the U.S. House and Senate must put aside partisanship and instead agree upon pro-growth policies that have broad, bipartisan support.
For my part I believe we need spending restraint to address the record debt and deficit that are harmful to the economy.
We must begin to live within our means as so many New Jersey working families do and have taken a step in that direction with passage of the Budget Control Act that cuts government spending more than it raises the debt cap, puts in place spending cuts that restrain future spending and advances the cause of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
Our economy needs real tax code reform and new tax policies that encourage hard work, innovation and investment while making American companies more competitive internationally. Congress must pass measures to provide our nation's job-creators with the tools they need to invest in plants, equipment and workers.
And I support passage of the three pending free trade agreements. On a level playing field, where our products do not face higher tariffs than imports from other countries, New Jersey businesses will thrive.
There is bipartisan support for sensible regulatory reform to help spur economic growth and make America more competitive in the global marketplace. Business owners are often forced to fight cumbersome rules and regulations rather than spend that time investing in their companies and creating new jobs.
Health care reform can lead to job creation. We should start from scratch and pass into law fiscally responsible reforms that include allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, establishing high-risk insurance pools, implementing medical malpractice reforms and prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions. These health care policies will lower health care costs, expand access and protect jobs.
Finally we need a national energy plan that makes us less dependent on foreign oil and uses American resources to ensure reliable and affordable energy. In the Energy and Commerce Committee we are working in a bipartisan capacity toward an energy plan that creates American energy and American jobs.
Those are some of my views and policies on job creation. I believe leaders in Washington and rank-and-file members of Congress must renew our focus on policies that create jobs and expand our economy.