During the 18 town meetings I held across South Alabama in June, I made a point to ask if anyone felt they weren't being taxed enough. Rarely did a hand go up. When I asked if anyone felt government spends too much, the response was overwhelmingly, "yes." I don't think folks in the First Congressional District of Alabama are any different from other Americans who realize you don't raise taxes in a recession.
Last week, the Obama administration said it was prepared to veto legislation Congress passes later this year to prevent automatic across-the-board tax increases in January, unless lawmakers agree with the White House to raise taxes on those making over $250,000. The president has repeatedly justified his punitive tax hike strategy as a way to impose "fairness." Apparently, Mr. Obama feels the economy is less important than some notion that government should punish America's job creators because they earn more.
The accounting firm Ernst and Young has already concluded Mr. Obama's tax hike will cost 700,000 jobs.
I would invite the president to come down to Alabama to talk first hand with business owners who pay more than their fair share while struggling to eke out a profit during the prolonged economic slump. Whether in Chatom, Brewton or Foley, small business owners are not only staring down the barrel of possible tax hikes come January, but they face growing costly government regulation, not to mention the looming unfunded mandates of Obamacare.
Most Americans work for small businesses and, not surprisingly, most new job hires will come from that same sector of the economy. Many small business owners are operating in the margins -- just like many families forced to cope with stagnant wages and sky high gas prices. The collective economy will not rebound until businesses and consumers feel the worst is behind them. The White House just doesn't seem to get the fact that what America needs most right now is confidence in the future. The House has passed scores of bills aimed at instilling such confidence among job creators only to see them die in the Senate.
The president recently touted a 0.3 percent drop in unemployment as a sign that his policies of increased government borrowing, spending and more business red tape are working. After closer examination, the slight uptick in employment appears to be the result of more Americans settling for part-time jobs rather than gains in full-time employment. This squares with the most recent survey of employer attitudes by The National Federation of Independent Business. It found that small business pessimism actually grew in September. Accordingly, more small businesses surveyed reported decreases in employment than those reporting hiring increases.
With a broad spectrum of taxes scheduled to rise come January 1, 2013 with the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, Congress and the president must work together to ensure that our economy is protected. Punitive tax increases are not going to lift our economy. If the president is truly interested in "fairness," he should also work with us to rewrite and simplify the federal tax code.
Political rancor is already at a fever pitch in Washington. It makes little sense for the White House to threaten to veto tax relief even before Congress has had a chance to sit down and work out the details. If the president is serious about creating jobs and growing the economy, he is welcome to join with us in working to prevent job-killing tax hikes and finding more ways to curb government overspending.
Social Security COLA:
Last week, it was announced that the nation's 56 million Social Security recipients will receive a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment beginning in January 2013. Additionally, the nation's eight million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will also see a 1.7 percent COLA effective December 31, 2012. The 1.7 percent increase translates to an average of $21 more a month for Social Security recipients, bringing the average monthly benefit to $1,261.
Austal Lays Keel for New LCS:
Last Thursday, Mobile's Austal USA marked the official beginning of construction of its third littoral combat ship (LCS). I was pleased to attend the keel laying ceremony for the USS Jackson held at the company's Mobile River shipyard. The LCS is becoming a familiar sight along the downtown waterfront. Austal is slated to construct nine more of the shallow water combat ships for the Navy in a contract valued at $3.5 billion.
The company also holds a $1.6 billion contract to build 10 Joint High Speed Vessels, (JHSV) for the Navy. Austal's total employment is expected to rise to 4,000 as work on both contracts ramps up.