In September, President Obama unveiled a $450 billion jobs package, which is yet another stimulus plan that will continue to increase spending and drive up the deficit. His shortsighted approach is a political stunt designed for a troubled re-election campaign, not appropriate for a legitimate discussion of a serious and long-term policy plan for economic recovery.
President Obama doesn't fully understand the potential of small business, which is the true driver and job creator of the 21st century economy.
According to the National Federation of Independent Business, small businesses represent:
- 99% of all employer firms;
- Employ about half of private-sector employees; and
- Generated 60% to 80% of net new jobs annually over the last decade.
My husband Bruce and I have a family ranch business. We understand the challenges faced by all small business owners when dealing with government mandates. Business should be encouraged to grow and create jobs without undue burdensome rules and regulations.
In order to create jobs and grow the economy, we must restore confidence in American small businesses by fostering an economic climate that supports small businesses.
As a member of the Nebraska Unicameral since 2005, I have been an effective legislator because I know how to set priorities and pass effective policy goals without trading votes like some in Congress do. I've backed the largest tax relief package in Nebraska history; I've passed a bill to protect private property rights; and I've worked to eliminate unnecessary regulations on small businesses.
Congress needs to set legislative priorities that will reward entrepreneurship, growth and innovation -- and when it does, it will create the jobs we so badly need. When elected to the U.S. Senate, I will have five legislative priorities that I will address so we can give our small businesses a chance to succeed and create jobs in the 21st Century.
1. Stop Tax Increases and Reform the Tax Code
2. Promote Free Trade
3. Eliminate Excessive Mandates and Regulations
4. Reduce Energy Costs
5. Lower Health Care Costs
1. Stop Tax Increases and Reform the Tax Code
The Obama Administration's 2012 budget plan raises taxes on small business owners by increasing unemployment taxes, estate taxes and individual rates. Small businesses can expect to see their taxes increase by $1 trillion over 10 years if President Obama has his budget plan enacted.2 How will this provide capital for small businesses to expand and create jobs?
President Obama's plan will only place more burdens on small businesses and individuals. Raising taxes does not solve the problem we have in this country. The problem is out of control spending by Washington.
We also need to reform and stabilize the tax code to make it easier for businesses and individuals alike to plan for the future.
Reforming the Tax Code
The current tax code is too complex, which poses a significant challenge for future planning by small businesses and individuals. The daunting task of trying to maneuver through the numerous provisions surrounding tax compliance drains small businesses of resources. Small businesses spend almost $19 billion and put in two billion hours annually trying to comply with the tax code.
We need to reform the tax code, making it simpler for small businesses and individuals to plan and invest in the future. Changes in the tax code should not be aimed at a particular industry or section of the code, but should be made comprehensively and deliberately. Adequate transition time should also be included in any reform plan.
Make the Bush Tax Cuts Permanent
President Obama has said he plans to let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012. This is another bad decision for our current economic condition. We need to make the Bush tax cuts permanent in order to create a business-friendly environment that encourages investment and creates jobs.
Eliminate Loopholes and Reduce the Corporate Tax Rate
Many companies are discouraged from dealing with our complex tax code and instead choose to take advantage of current loopholes in the system left open by the Obama Administration. For example, General Electric made $5.1 billion in profits from their U.S. operations in 2010, but paid no taxes by shifting capital to low-tax countries in order to make use of a tax shelter.4 We need to eliminate these loopholes and allow for this capital to be invested back into the U.S. Economy.
Eliminating corporate loopholes should be accompanied by a significant reduction of the corporate tax rate. The U.S. corporate tax rate is highest among our trading partners at 35%. We need to foster competitiveness by reducing our corporate tax rate to at least 24%. With our unemployment rate the highest it has been in decades and our economy struggling to get back on its feet, we cannot afford to lose our competitive edge in the global market.
Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax
Most small business owners file as individuals, and more and more are being penalized by the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which is not indexed for inflation. The AMT should be eliminated.
Eliminate the Death Tax
I support abolishing the death tax so that family businesses and farms can pass from one generation to the next.
2. Promote Free Trade
Free trade allows American small businesses to expand their marketplace and opportunities to succeed. New markets would be a boon for Nebraska agriculture and manufacturing, as well as provide more choices and lower prices for consumers. As a Kellogg Fellow, I worked on a project to investigate U.S. beef exports to South Korea. Exports are an important area for growth in our economy and should be promoted and encouraged.
Approve Trade Agreements
Congress was finally given the opportunity to approve the trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia. President Obama irresponsibly took no action for years, delaying three important agreements that will now help to continue growing our economy. These agreements open new markets for Nebraska farmers and manufacturers. Going forward, our country needs to aggressively seek new trading relationships and finalize agreements in a reasonable amount of time.
Ensure Free Trade is Fair Trade
Foreign competitors often invoke expensive, unnecessary and protectionist requirements that make American exports uncompetitive. We need to work with our trading partners to eliminate or reform foreign tariffs on U.S. exports. Additionally, some countries fail to adhere to intellectual property laws. China is an example of this. The U.S. International Trade Commission found that in 2009, U.S. businesses lost $48 billion in sales due to Chinese piracy. Congress must ensure that our free trade agreements are comprehensive against countries that continually take advantage of our trading relationship.
3. Eliminate Excessive Mandates and Regulation
Currently, the Obama Administration and the Democrats in Congress have allowed federal agencies to impose burdensome and costly regulations on small businesses. It is estimated that the U.S. economy would see an increase of 1.2 million jobs if the $2.8 billion federal regulatory budget was reduced by 5%. We must eliminate these obstacles to job creation and instead allow our small businesses to thrive.
Congress should establish an independent review to analyze each proposed rule or mandate prior to implementation to assess its impact on the economy. Rules and regulations should also have a sunset date included. We need greater Congressional oversight, transparency and accountability of these rules.
Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving forward on several new economic and major policy rules put forth by the Obama Administration. Each new rule creates more obstacles for small businesses to overcome in order to operate and grow. We need to put into place a system that requires Congressional approval for any regulation with a significant economic impact. In addition, as a U.S. Senator, I will block any EPA appointment candidate whose goal or record indicates they want to expand onerous EPA regulations.
Repeal Dodd-Frank Financial Bill
The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill may have intended to provide safeguards for average Americans against another financial crisis, but like much of the Democrats' hastily-passed legislation, this bill contained many provisions that will, in effect, cripple our businesses in this country. The Dodd-Frank bill must be repealed. In the event that full repeal is not achieved, I will seek to repeal the Durbin Amendment, which has led to increased bank card fees, and the Volcker Rule, which limits a financial institution's ability to invest.
In order for our economy to recover, financial institutions must be encouraged to provide loans and foster businesses to grow. Allowing our financial industry to diversify its activities is necessary for our economy to continue to prosper.
4. Reduce Energy Costs
Our dependence on unstable -- and sometimes hostile -- foreign oil sources causes energy costs to soar. This affects the bottom line for small business owners.
End Foreign Reliance of Oil
America's reliance on foreign oil emboldens undemocratic regimes, creating national security risks and costing us jobs. I believe in an all-of-the-above approach to energy production: from greater domestic oil and gas production and exploration, to expanding clean coal technology, to building nuclear energy infrastructure and renewable resources where they are cost-effective.
Support More Drilling and Refineries
The Obama Administration frequently denies offshore drilling and is wrong to stop the building of refineries that increase our domestic production capacity. I support offshore and domestic drilling with proper environmental safeguards, as well as building new refineries. I also support drilling in ANWR, which would be a step towards energy independence. According to a U.S. Geological Survey, drilling in ANWR could yield 16 billion barrels of oil, which is close to 30 years of oil imports from Saudi Arabia.
Liberal energy regulations are preventing American industries from competing globally, costing us jobs. The Obama Administration proved creating and maintaining jobs was not a priority when they pushed for cap-and-trade legislation that would have increased energy prices by 30%, increased taxes by over $1 trillion and cost us American jobs. The threat of cap-and-trade legislation hurts small businesses and I oppose such legislation.
5. Lower Health Care Costs
Each year, the rising cost of health care becomes a greater burden for small businesses. The Obama Administration has made our situation exponentially worse by implementing a government-run healthcare system that overburdens entrepreneurs and will have a devastating impact on our economy. To reduce health care costs for small business owners and their employees, Congress should not embrace a big-government solution, but rather implement a series of policies that permit market forces to lower health care costs.
Repeal Obama's Health Care Plan
The new regulations in Obama's health care bill -- made possible by Ben Nelson's 60th vote -- are already taking their toll on small businesses. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office testified that Obamacare is responsible for 800,000 lost jobs. Some of these job losses are right here in Nebraska. Recently, American Republic Insurance cited Obama's health care plan as the reason for 70 jobs eliminated in Omaha.
Government-run health care is expensive, bureaucratic and promotes bad medicine. The regulations put on businesses is stifling our economic recovery. That's why I strongly support the repeal of Obama's health care plan.
Pass Real Medical Malpractice Liability Reform
Billions of dollars in health care expenditures go to preventing lawsuits, driving up costs for consumers and businesses. Passing tort reform with fair and responsible limits on liability judgments -- such as those we now have by law in Nebraska -- will rein in frivolous lawsuits and result in significant cost decreases in healthcare.
Increase Competition Between Insurance Companies
Currently, insurance companies cannot sell policies across state lines. Competition is the hallmark of our free-market system because it lowers costs, increases quality and encourages innovation. I support legislation that would allow insurance companies to compete across state lines.
Association Health Care Plans
Association Health Plans (AHPs) enable small employers and others to provide better and more affordable healthcare coverage options for their employees. I support AHPs because they make health coverage more accessible and affordable by creating a level playing field for small businesses. Under Obama's health care plan, AHPs now have more limited options when choosing members and have to abide by more burdensome regulations. A lack of clarification on the requirements and rate review facing AHPs in Obama's health care plan adds to the uncertainty the legislation has created for small