From: Congressman Mark Critz (PA-12)
OPEN LETTER ON ECONOMIC GROWTH AND JOB CREATION
Promoting overall economic growth and creating jobs is the most immediate priority facing our nation. Congress must enact bipartisan ideas and policies that jumpstart our economy, put Americans back to work, and invest in our future.
To accomplish this, we must keep America competitive, support the flow of commerce, invest in American energy jobs, advance national infrastructure projects, educate our workforce, overhaul the corporate tax code, and work with industry to implement reasonable regulations.
I urge the President to include the following ideas and policies, which I support, in his address tonight to the Joint Session of Congress:
Keep America Competitive
National Manufacturing Strategy Act (H.R. 1366). This bipartisan legislation directs the President to work with industry, labor leaders, and other stakeholders to develop a national strategy to increase manufacturing. Specifically, the U.S. government should promote policies related the nation's manufacturing sector intended to promote growth, sustainability, and competitiveness, create well-paying jobs, enable innovation and investment, and support national security.
Make It in America Block Grant Program Act of 2011 (H.R. 1912). This legislation would establish a grant program at the Commerce Department to provide small to medium-sized businesses in communities hardest hit by unemployment with the resources and strategies they need to retool and retrofit their operations and train their workforce in order to transition to the manufacturing of clean energy, high-technology, and advanced products.
American Steel First Act of 2011 (H.R. 1703). This legislation requires that the Departments of Transportation, Defense and Homeland Security use iron and steel produced in the United States for all construction, maintenance or repair projects of public buildings or public works.
Reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The SBIR program requires 11 federal agencies with large outside research budgets to award at least 2.5 percent of their spending to small businesses. Every year, SBIR funds thousands of projects and helps over 1,500 new companies get off the ground. Those startups develop innovative new products, make advances in technology and, most importantly, create new jobs.
As a member of the Small Business Committee, I offered three amendments to the latest SBIR reauthorization bill. These include SBIR solicitations for research proposals related to reducing the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, reducing the environmental impact of acid mine drainage, and new proposals to clean coal and contain its emissions.
Pass Sensible Patent Reform Legislation. It has been more than 50 years since the patent system's last major overhaul. Congress must modernize the current system by passing legislation that will increase patent quality, reduce patent litigation costs, and provide the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with urgently-needed financial resources to handle the nearly 700,000 patent application backlog it currently faces.
Support the Flow of Commerce
Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 639). This bipartisan job-creating legislation would pressure countries like China to play by the rules of fair trade -- providing our government with effective tools to address unfair currency manipulation. The Economic Policy Institute recently issued a report showing that fair trade and a level playing field would produce 2.25 million American jobs; reduce the budget deficit by $71 billion per year; reduce the unemployment rate a full percentage point; increase GDP by $286 billion; and reduce the trade deficit by $191 billion.
On July 6, 2011, I filed a discharge petition on this legislation. The petition currently has 173 signatures, and if passed would require that the House immediately consider H.R. 639.
Trade Enforcement Priorities Act (H.R. 1518). This legislation, which I introduced in April 2011, requires the U.S. Trade Representative to identify foreign country practices that inhibit the export of U.S. goods and to negotiate remedies so that U.S. manufacturers can compete on a level playing field.
Invest in American Energy Jobs
Marcellus Shale On-the-Job Training Act of 2011 (H.R. 1396). This legislation, which I introduced in April 2011, requires the Secretary of Labor to make discretionary grants to local areas for adult on-the-job training or dislocated worker on-the-job training at worksites directly related to the exploration, production, and transportation of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation.
Clean Coal-Derived Fuels for Energy Security Act of 2011 (H.R. 1868). This bipartisan legislation would require that certain fuels in the nation's fuel mix contain a minimum volume of clean coal-derived fuel.
Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence Act (H.R. 1861). This bipartisan legislation would develop our offshore oil and gas resources and use this tax revenue to invest in renewable energy programs, energy efficiency/conservation projects, and increase the use of alternative fuel vehicles.
New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2011 (H.R. 1380). This bipartisan legislation provides tax credit incentives to encourage private investment in natural gas refueling infrastructure and the production and purchasing of natural gas vehicles and trucks.
Job Creation and Energy Security Act of 2011 (H.R. 1712). This legislation would exempt sales of natural gas, or any product derived from natural gas, for use in motor vehicles from the $5 million retail sales limitation applicable to independent producers of petroleum products for purposes of the oil and gas depreciation allowance.
Advance National Infrastructure Projects
Pass a Robust Federal Transportation Reauthorization Bill. The last major surface transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU) expired in October 2009. It's time for Congress to pass a new transportation bill -- one that will spur road and bridge construction, improve rail lines, airports, and maritime ports, and purchase and maintain public transit vehicles and equipment. These projects support thousands of direct and indirect American jobs.
Pass H.R. 1218, Regarding the Appalachian Highway System. This bipartisan legislation repeals a provision in the 2005 transportation bill that prohibited states from using toll revenues as a credit toward the non-federal state matching share requirement for projects in the Appalachian development highway system. By allowing states to use such revenues, dozens of highway construction projects could commence, including the completion of Route 219 from Somerset to Meyersdale, PA.
Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2011 (H.R. 1802). This bipartisan legislation would remove the cap on private facility bonds that municipalities can use for water and waste water infrastructure projects. This access to new private capital will help replace and upgrade aging our aging infrastructure while supporting U.S. jobs.
Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2011 (H.R. 721) and the Freight Rail Infrastructure Capacity Expansion Act of 2011 (H.R. 2091). These bills provide tax incentives to encourage private-sector capital investment in rail infrastructure.
Educate our Workforce
Job Opportunities Between our Shores (JOBS) Act (H.R. 1716). This legislation establishes a Workforce Investment Act pilot program to provide education and training programs in advanced manufacturing.
American Manufacturing Efficiency & Retraining Investment Collaboration (AMERICA Works) Act (H.R. 1325). This bipartisan legislation strengthens our workforce by helping American workers earn certifications, degrees, and qualifications for the jobs American industry needs to fill.
Invest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education. To strengthen American innovation and ensure that our kids have the skills they need to be competitive in today's global economy, we must invest in science, technology, engineering, and math education.
Overhaul the Corporate Tax Code
The last full-scale overhaul of the U.S. corporate tax code was in 1986 -- and the current system is confusing and inefficient. It forces businesses to make decisions based on tax consequences rather than on solid business principles. Many of these decisions, unfortunately, send investment and jobs overseas. For example, in a world of highly mobile capital, the U.S. tax system encourages American companies to invest overseas and deters them from bringing home the profits from those operations. Because of this, corporate America is sitting on an estimated $1 trillion-plus in cash in offshore accounts. Our tax system is broken and in need of modern and commonsense reform. Reform could lower the corporate tax rate, close industry-specific loopholes, simplify the code itself, and bring investment back to make American business and the American worker more competitive globally.
Work with Industry to Implement Reasonable Regulations
Protect America's Energy and Manufacturing Jobs Act of 2011 (H.R. 199). This legislation would provide a two-year delay in the EPA's authority to take action under the Clean Air Act with respect to any stationary source emitter of carbon dioxide and methane. This prevents job losses by giving industry reasonable deadlines to meet new environmental standards.
Consumers Payment System Protection Act (H.R. 1081). This bipartisan legislation would delay implementation of the interchange transaction (swipe) fees rule for one year and have the U.S. Government study the impact of the rule on consumers, issuers, merchants, and the payment networks. This provision, included in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, placed undue burdens on smaller banks and credit unions.
Employment Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 1872). This legislation requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prior to issuing a regulation or policy statement, to analyze its impact on employment levels and economic activity.