By Jason Noble
An Iowa campaign swing focusing on the economy and the needs of small businesses gave U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann ample opportunity Monday to critique new proposals from President Barack Obama.
In stops at two northern Iowa businesses, Bachmann, a Republican presidential candidate from Minnesota, said the debt-reduction plan Obama outlined Monday would "ruin the United States economy."
The president's plan calls for $1.5 trillion in additional tax revenues -- including a new "millionaire's tax" -- alongside cost-cutting changes to the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs and numerous other measures to reduce the federal debt.
Bachmann joined many in her party in castigating the proposal.
"Mr. President, you don't create jobs by increasing taxes on job creators," Bachmann read from a prepared statement to audiences of small-business employees in Waterloo and in Sheffield. "Your plan to raise taxes on the American people is the wrong policy to create economic growth and jobs and shows that you don't understand how to turn the economy around."
Bachmann's economic-recovery prescription, by contrast, calls for lowering taxes, a step she said would stimulate new hiring and economic growth.
During her visit to Sukup Manufacturing Co., a grain bin and agriculture equipment maker in Sheffield, Bachmann called for lower taxes on businesses and corporations and railed against the burdens of federal regulations, which she said cost businesses $1.1 trillion a year.
"If we can pull away that regulatory burden, if we can lower the tax rate on a company like this, that'll mean more money in Sukup's pocket," she said. "You can grow even more and create more jobs and increase the wages and the benefit package. That sounds like a pretty smart idea to me."
Bachmann also called for the repeal of the estate tax, which she said can be challenging for family-owned companies that pass along business assets from one generation to the next.
She also fit in a swipe at Solyndra, a clean-energy company in California that went bankrupt recently despite $535 million in federal loan guarantees awarded as part of the stimulus plan signed by Obama in 2009.
The company's failure is indicative of larger problems with president's approach to economic recovery, Bachmann said, and proves the need for tax cuts and regulatory reform.
In Sheffield and at an afternoon visit to traffic-light manufacturer OMJC Signal Inc. in Waterloo, Bachmann also criticized the president's signature health care law, which will require most individuals to purchase health insurance.
The law will cost the country almost 1 million jobs and $1 trillion in additional insurance costs, Bachmann said.
Better solutions, she said, would be to grow the private insurance market by allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines and to decouple health insurance from the workplace.
"You should be able to own your plan, so that your employer doesn't own it," she told a crowd of about 20 at OMJC Signal. "You get to own it, (and) you buy it with your own tax-free money."
Such reforms, she said, would make the market for health insurance similar to those for car and life insurance, reducing costs and increasing accessibility.
Her presence and remarks were warmly received at both businesses.
Sukup President Charles Sukup said he was amazed by her energy and the buzz she generated when entering a room.
Her policy ideas and the distinctions she drew to the current administration were attractive as well, he said.
Sukup said he thought the new federal health care law would be a "nightmare" for his business because of new mandates, restrictions and coverage requirements.
"It's definitely going to drive up the health care costs" for his company of more than 500 employees, he said.
In Waterloo, OMJC executive and employees left their meeting with the candidate impressed as well.
Keith Bailey, a supervisor in OMJC's electrical shop, said he believed Bachmann had the ideas to create real economic change and the character to make it happen.
"I think she has enough to shake up Washington," he said. "We've always done it a certain way. Let's change it."