By Jennifer Hall
Roy Blunt was in St. Joseph Monday to talk about the economy. The Missouri senator spoke to community members from inside Little Cesars Pizza at 22nd Street and Mitchell Avenue. The pizzeria's owners, Duane and Donna Turk, just announced they were adding a second location in St. Joseph.
"Hopefully, we'll figure out how to move forward in a way that encourages job creation instead of discouraging it," Mr. Blunt said.
Reaching an agreement and avoiding the "fiscal cliff" could send the right signals to the rest of the world, he said. It also could mean growth for small businesses.
"I have a business and I'm teetering at the point to bring on more people or not," said Mayor Bill Falkner, owner of Falkner Plumbing. "So I'm holding off right now when I could actually use the help."
Mr. Blunt said there are huge opportunities out there.
"But the problems we face are big but they aren't all that complicated," he said.
If both sides can reach compromise, solving the country's financial woes means getting long-term obligations and spending under control. There could be a negative economic reaction otherwise.
"I think there is a lack of understanding in the last four years of the Obama administration that regulations, taxes and energy policy has had any impact at all on job creation," Mr. Blunt said.
The Republican senator said he would like to focus on tax policy and spending.
"Every country in the world wants a United States with a strong economy," he said.
For Hy-Vee Store Director Brad McAnally, the solution is simple.
"Get government out of our way," he told Mr. Blunt. "That's all there is to it."
Mr. McAnally said that whether it's the federal government, state or even local, it seems businesses, particularly small businesses, can't go very far without beating their head against the wall and having to do something to appease government.
Because of the 2002 Farm Bill, country of origin labels cost the Iowa-based grocery millions of dollars to let customers know where some of their products came from.
"But nobody pays attention to it," Mr. McAnally said.
And the federal heath care overhaul could also cost companies like Hy-Vee more than $50 million a year, Mr. McAnally said.
"We don't know yet but the problem is that more than anything is the cost to our employees," he said. "Let us run our business and we'll create the jobs."
Mr. Blunt just hopes the end-of-the-year barrier is just that, "a pretty good barrier."
"Hopefully, it'll be done by then," he said.