Economy & Budget

American profits for the American people

One in ten San Diegans and more than 14 million Americans are without a job this holiday season. Before Congress adjourns for the year, Washington must send a strong message to the American people that job creation and economic growth is a top priority.

Instead of waiting for comprehensive tax reform, Washington should focus on what it can do now to put Americans back to work and spur economic growth. Repatriation, or the return of capital earned by U.S. companies overseas, is one of the few ideas boasting bipartisan support that provides a realistic way to inject money into the U.S. economy without the risk of wasteful government spending.

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Biopharma exports benefit the U.S. economy and global health

Efforts to foster robust economic growth in the U.S. quite simply cannot be solely focused inward; instead, they require a competitive export economy.

According to the Administration, if we increased exports by just five percent, we would create hundreds of thousands of new U.S. jobs. In fact, the Administration set itself a much higher goal in its National Export Initiative (NEI), proposing to double U.S. exports and create 2 million new jobs by 2015. To accomplish this goal, policymakers must take into consideration the myriad ways in which U.S. trade policy can help to promote the ability of export-generating industries, such as the innovative biopharmaceutical sector, to meet the Administration’s challenge. 

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Europe’s prevailing uncertainty, and new realities

As European leaders conclude a new historic treaty aimed at greater integration and averting collapse, Germany formalizes its undisputed leadership of Europe.  Timing and symbolism cannot be underestimated.  The new accord’s endorsement at the Brussels summit occurs twenty years to the day of the Maastricht Treaty’s signing, which created the European Union and its single currency, the euro.

However, euphoric headlines claiming “German vision prevails” may soon be replaced by “Euro fails”.  The Brussels summit may amount to too little, too late. It provides no form of closure for the eurozone crisis. Nor does it include any credible measures to address immediate needs.  Europe still remains in the danger zone.  In fact, the eurozone’s intrinsically inherent contradictions were on full display at the summit. The bottom line: how to reconcile a single currency with 17 different fiscal policies and banking systems, particularly when northern European fiscal responsibility is hampered by southern profligacy.   

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The good, the bad and the bogus BBA’s

As part of the deal that gave President Barack Obama the increase in the federal debt ceiling he so desperately wanted, both houses of Congress are required to hold a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The House of Representatives has already acted but failed to achieve the two-thirds support necessary for it to pass. Now it’s the Senate’s turn.

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What happened to the “up-tick” rule?

I have been a “Public Member” of the Securities Industry Conference on Arbitration (SICA) for 35 years and its Chair for the last seven years.  SICA’s main goal has been to reinforce the public’s trust in the integrity of our securities markets by insuring that a level playing field exists for the resolution of disputes that arise between the investigating public and the securities industry. 

Accordingly, about 2 ½ years ago I wrote the SEC expressing my grave concern regarding indiscriminate and abusive short selling which caused havoc with so many securities during the 2008 market collapse.  I suggested the “up-tick” rule be reinstated for short sales – a rule which acted as a natural brake to abusive short selling for decades after the Great Depression. 

Unfortunately my suggestion went unheeded, and short sellers have continued to add to the extreme volatility prevalent today in our securities markets.

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Commuters at risk of tax discrimination and increase

Most policy makers agree that public transit is good for America. After all, it eases traffic congestion, lowers pollution, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, improves our quality of life, and makes it easier for employers to attract quality workers. At the very least, few would dispute the notion that the tax code should give equal treatment to those who pay to park their car at work and those who take the subway, bus, trolley or train.

That’s why Congress amended the commuter benefit in 2009 to allow workers to pay for up to $230 per month in transit fares with pre-tax dollars, the same amount allowed for parking expenses. Before 2009, the transit benefit had been limited to just $120 per month.

However, unless Congress acts swiftly, the change that brought parity to the transit benefit will expire at the end of the year and discrimination in the tax code will return.  Starting on January 1, 2012, workers will be eligible to contribute up to $240 per month pre-tax for parking, but only up to $125 per month pre-tax for transit.

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Big business tax holidays are bad for small business, bad for America

If small business owners decided to stop paying our fair share of taxes, we'd be sent to jail. Big business tax dodgers want Congress to reward them with a tax holiday.

The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce strongly opposes legislation in Congress that would reward U.S. multinational corporations with massive, unwarranted tax discounts to bring back hundreds of billions in U.S. profits they shifted offshore to avoid paying taxes in the first place.

So called "Repatriation Tax Holidays" are nothing more than unfair, anti-American giveaways to big businesses that have lobbying and political donor clout in Washington, D.C.

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John Adams, Barack Obama, and tax policy

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams said in 'Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,' December 1770.
 
President Obama would be well served to remember the “Adams Rule.”

He would have been well-served to remember it before taking to the podium at the White House Briefing Room this afternoon and feigning “confusion” over Republican insistence that tax cuts be paid for – or even complaining about a House Rules change that loosens budget enforcement on revenue reductions.

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Reaffirming our commitment to national service

On December 5, 2007, just a few weeks before the Iowa caucuses launched him to the front of the race in the Democratic primary, then-Candidate Barack Obama issued a pledge to expand national service in America.  To a thousand Iowans at Cornell College he called national service not just an idea, but a central cause of his presidency. 

On that day four years ago, he outlined a sweeping expansion of America’s service programs to harness the idealism and ingenuity of citizens in building a more perfect union.  In his first address to Congress, President Obama asked for speedy progress in passing legislation to define such a new era of service.

A bipartisan group of Members of Congress worked together to craft and enact legislation embodying this bold new vision for national and community service.  At its passing (with co-sponsorship by Senators Hatch, Kennedy, McCain, Mikulski and others) they named it the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, and sent it to the President for signature less than 100 days into his presidency.  Leaders on both sides of the aisle hailed the bipartisan recognition of the value of engaging citizens in new and effective ways to help meet the challenges of our time.

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GOP effort to freeze federal pay for five years unfair

Some Republicans in the Senate are pushing a proposal to extend the current pay freeze for federal employees another three years, for a total of five consecutive years, to offset the cost of extending the payroll tax credit.  While we agree that continuing this middle class tax cut is an absolute necessity, it is unthinkable that federal workers would be singled out again to pay for it.

Federal workers have already made significant sacrifices to help ease the burden of our national debt.  We swallowed hard and accepted the two-year pay freeze which has been a great burden to federal workers and their families that are struggling just like everyone else. This sacrifice alone has saved American taxpayers $60 billion.

Federal workers are also deeply impacted by major cuts being made to the federal budget. Between $900 billion in budget cuts across federal agencies that was agreed to as part of the initial debt ceiling compromise and an additional $1.2 trillion coming in sequesters, federal agencies and their employees are getting seriously squeezed.

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