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Mr. WOMACK. I thank the gentleman, and I do appreciate his leadership in this discussion about job creation in America.
I've said many, many times that if there is an elixer out there to fix the problems, the challenges facing our country today, it's job creation.
What the gentleman from Arkansas has been articulating in the last several minutes has been a very good discussion about the four things, and I couldn't agree more, the four things that are part and parcel to our country creating jobs and putting itself on a different fiscal path.
He's talked about overregulation. I'll come back to that in a moment. He's talked about the threat of higher taxes and the need for comprehensive tax reform in our Nation; he's talked about the need for a solid energy policy that allows our country to access its own resources, American energy resources to solve America's energy challenges; and, of course, he's talked about the deficits and the debt.
Now, if you look at the plight that we're in today insofar as job creation--one greater than 8 percent unemployment, sustained unemployment of over 8 percent--and when you look at the fact that people are out here scrambling to find work--meaningful jobs as they want to be productive and want to contribute to American exceptionalism--then the way you do that is not by taking a welfare check; it's by having a paycheck. If you're looking at this plight today like you would an impending storm, it's a dark, dark cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the job creators.
I submit to you that the reason so many people are sitting on trillions of dollars of cash, those who would like to get into the game and create jobs and expand the American economy, is that they have a difficult time computing their input costs. They don't know how energy is going to affect their ability to create jobs. They don't know how the next regulation, the next rule that is going to come down from Washington, is going to impact their ability to earn a profit. As evidenced by the downgrade that we had last year by the S&P, they're not confident that Congress, these people who gather in this Chamber every day, is capable of making the decisions, of having the courage to make the decisions to put America on a different fiscal path. It's a dark, dark cloud of uncertainty. I don't blame them for sitting on the sidelines right now, but there is a lot of cash ready to get in the game if we'll just do some of the right things.
The gentlemen who have spoken tonight talked about regulation, but that's not why I came to the floor tonight, and that's not what I wanted to talk about primarily. I came from a meeting right before votes today that talked about an issue totally unrelated to my district and unrelated to most of America. It's out in California.
Later this week, we're going to vote on H.R. 1837, the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act. I heard my colleague from California talking passionately about this issue, as he has done a number of times from the well of this House, in that, back in 2009, Federal regulations to protect a 3-inch fish, the delta smelt, led to the deliberate diversion of over 300 billion gallons of water away from the San Joaquin Valley and its farmers. It cost thousands of farm workers their jobs; it inflicted up to 40 percent unemployment in certain communities; and it fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile farmland.
Those were real people.
Those were real jobs.
Because of Federal regulations and this desire on the part of this Congress--of this Federal Government, I should say--to protect a 3-inch fish, we turned our backs on American workers. In so doing, we affected millions of people nationwide because, when you affect the fertile farmlands of California the way we have by diverting this water, you have, indeed, taken a step toward increasing the price of food.
The bill that we will consider later this week is a comprehensive solution that would restore water deliveries that have been cut off through the Federal regulations and environmental lawsuits and through a plethora of things facing the California farmers.
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Mr. WOMACK. Let me take it a step further because I can relate to what the gentleman is talking about and can relate it back to my home district.
I think the gentleman would agree that, over the last several years in Arkansas, there has been a
phenomenal rate of growth in the northwest part of our State, the area that I happen to represent, which is the great Third District of Arkansas. It's known for its incredible growth over the last several years. Now, it is home to some pretty well-known companies, companies like Wal-Mart and J.B. Hunt trucking and Tyson Foods.
If you look at northwest Arkansas, there is really no compelling reason why prior to the establishment of those major companies that northwest Arkansas would be an area where you would have this unprecedented growth. But for the entrepreneurial spirit and drive of guys like Sam Walton and Don Tyson and J.B. Hunt--and I could go down another list of people who have provided jobs and who have created and expanded businesses and who have made a meaningful impact on the greater mid-South and the entire Nation--northwest Arkansas would be kind of an average area with no great infrastructure, until recently there, and with no real compelling reason why it would be anything special.
Yet we're fighting an issue in the greater northwest Arkansas area that could, indeed, impact our ability to continue to grow. I'm talking about EPA's desire, insatiable appetite, to put a total maximum daily load, a TMDL, if you would, on phosphorus loading in the Illinois River watershed, which flows into Oklahoma, because of a loading standard imposed on northwest Arkansas by our neighboring State, a standard that many say is not even achievable.
So all of the great development and job creation and the elevated quality of life is in jeopardy. The future is in jeopardy as a result of a Federal agency imposing on the region a standard that may or may not even be able to be achieved.
I bring that up for this reason: back when I was a mayor of a city in northwest Arkansas, I challenged EPA to give us the science, to show us exactly how they can calculate that this standard has been impacted by the farmers and ranchers of northwest Arkansas and those who manage the point sources of pollution, the municipalities. I happened to be the mayor who presided over one of those. As I understand it, the science was a collection of data from about 20 streams somewhere in America, streams not known to us. They took, I think, the 75th percentile of the average phosphorus loading into those streams. I doubt seriously that they used streams and rivers that were similar to what we were dealing with in northwest Arkansas.
I bring up this subject only because we're talking about job creation tonight, and our ability to continue to expand the economy in northwest Arkansas is dependent on our ability to have a good, clean water supply and to be able to treat our wastewater and to be able to discharge it properly and sufficiently in order to be able to create growth.
Yet I'm afraid, one day, we're going to look up, and because of these standards imposed on us by the Federal bureaucracy, this overregulation that we've talked about, that we're not going to have an opportunity to grow because we're going to be into moratoria on growth and development in our area as a result of these unfair standards. But that's a whole other story.
I really came tonight to talk with my colleague about tax reform because, as we've indicated, the threat of higher taxes, or the tax structure as we now know it, is, in my strongest opinion, one of the great barriers to job creation.
You know, just the other day, in this very Chamber, the President of the United States stood on the dais and he talked to this Congress about the need for comprehensive tax reform. In his proposal to reform the corporate tax code, I was pleased to see the President showing some leadership in that regard, and I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues in the House and Senate to do something that in my strong opinion is long overdue.
I, along with many of my colleagues, agree on the need for corporate tax reform. The U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax structures in the world, second only to Japan. This discourages job growth and job creation in the United States.
It's time to broaden the base, time to get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers, time to eliminate special interest loopholes, and it's time to lower the corporate tax rate once and for all. But corporate tax reform is not the only piece of the puzzle. There are many other pieces. If we are going to grow the economy and give our job creators the certainty they need to invest, we also should look at the individual rates--not just the corporate rates, but the individual structure as well.
There's an opportunity to simplify the individual tax code. In December of 2010, according to the Compendium of Tax Expenditures prepared by the Congressional Research Service that we all use, there were more than 300 tax expenditures in the form of special exclusions, exemptions, deductions, credits, rates, and deferrals. We need to reevaluate every single one of these expenditures.
There are many other benefits of comprehensive tax reform. For example more than 90 percent of the Treasury's budget goes to the IRS. If we simplify the Tax Code and make it easier to follow and enforce, the IRS doesn't need the resources it currently needs.
What's more, IRS reported, and I think these numbers were back in 2006, hundreds of billions--I think some were just short of $400 billion--of what we call a tax gap. Again, simplification of the Tax Code makes it easier to follow and enforce, and we can significantly narrow that gap.
I thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle who are looking forward to working on comprehensive tax reform. I believe in my heart that it is, as my colleague from Arkansas has indicated, one of four things, four basic things, four basic issues facing America today that can help put our job creators back into the business of doing what they do best. And that is having ideas, incubating those ideas, making those ideas come to reality, taking the necessary risks, having access to the capital to help support those businesses, to expand those businesses by hiring people, by growing things, by making things.
And as my friend from Virginia said a moment ago, we have proven that the American worker is the most productive worker in the world. And that's what we need to do: Corporate tax reform; ending this excessive over-regulatory environment that we're in; to access American energy solutions to solve America's energy challenges; and once and for all doing something about the extraordinary deficits--four straight trillion-plus-dollar deficits--facing America, and nearly trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, based on the current glide path; to do those things necessary to get our deficit under control, to begin to whittle down that debt and save future generations of the burdens that we have in an almost immoral way put on their shoulders.
With that, I thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.
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