Another week has gone by without an agreement on preventing our country from going over the fiscal cliff and we are still waiting for specifics from President Obama on spending cuts he is willing to make to begin the task of cutting our country's ever-expanding debt. All we have heard from him is his obsession with raising taxes on hardworking American families and businesses.
New surveys from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) confirm what I have been saying for a long time -- Main Street job creators and job seekers are already being hurt by the threat of higher taxes. NFIB's monthly Small Business Economic Trends Report reveals that small business confidence is at a near record low level. In fact, the net percentage of small business owners that expect the economy and business conditions to improve in the next six months fell 37 points last month to a net negative 35 percent.
Nearly 70 percent of the firms that took part in the AGC survey reported they pay taxes at the individual tax rates, which are set to rise at the end of the year. Most of these companies are small, family-owned businesses with little capacity to absorb additional costs and are adjusting their business plans as a result.
Some disturbing information from survey participants to mull over:
67 percent report postponing hiring in anticipation of tax increases
65 percent report delaying or cancelling capital expenditures
32 percent report having already made layoffs
As if this weren't cause enough for distress, even more of the companies responding to the survey say they will make changes in the event taxes rise:
62 percent will postpone or cancel capital expenditures
59 percent will delay hiring
31 percent will reduce workforce size
Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned that concerns over the fiscal cliff standoff are taking a toll on the economy.
The message from Main Street businesses and working Americans is clear -- increased tax rates mean fewer jobs. An economic situation that could see American families and businesses hit with higher taxes, as well as our military taking a major hit as a result of the sequestration agreement - which I opposed from the start -- is not the right way to go. I support sensible reforms to the programs that drive our debt, coupled with common sense proposals to create jobs and a simpler, fairer tax code. I again call on President Obama and Senate Democrats to join me in rejecting tax increases. Washington has gotten where it is because it has spent too much; not taxed too little. It is time for the President to come to the table with a serious and balanced plan that reduces spending and helps strengthen America's economy.
On another matter, efforts to improve and enhance transportation in part of our state received a major boost this week as U.S. Highway 71 along the western edge of Missouri was upgraded to Interstate highway standards. This comes more than two decades after plans to transform U.S. 71 into I-49 were formally launched.
While I am empathetic to farmers in the area who might have additional challenges moving equipment, I believe Missouri's Fourth Congressional District will benefit greatly, overall, from the change as our state will be in a position to attract more commerce and jobs from businesses wanting to locate or expand in communities with access to an Interstate highway. This move will also enhance safety for families as access to Interstate highways is allowed only at interchanges, rather than through at-grade intersections. As someone who has lived near U.S. 71 most of my life and can remember when the highway was upgraded from two to four lanes, I am pleased to see this long-awaited idea come to fruition.
Have a good week.