Economy & Budget

Small business groups urge president to sign JOBS Act

Partisanship in Washington has risen to an all-time high and “politics as usual” has come to mean complete gridlock, where the most basic legislation falls flat because of political gamesmanship. That’s why the bipartisan jobs bill headed to the president’s desk for approval is such a breath of fresh air. The Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) Act will do some real good for America’s entrepreneurs — our nation’s primary job creators who, with help from laws like the JOBS Act, can pull the country out of its financial stupor.
The JOBS Act addresses one of small businesses’ biggest problems: a lack of access to credit. Banks' loan portfolios have been reduced by more than $47 billion since the pre-recession peak -- and that affects business owners across the country. Recent opinion polling Small Business Majority released found 90 percent of small businesses say the availability of credit is a problem, and 60 percent have faced difficulty themselves when trying to obtain loans that would grow their business. Another 61 percent of small business owners said it is harder now than it was four years ago to get a loan. And according to National Small Business Association (NSBA) data dating back nearly 20 years, there is a direct correlation between access to capital and job growth — when capital flows more freely, small businesses add new jobs.


Time to cut the Pentagon budget

As budget chair for the House of Representatives, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is “The Man.” President Obama presented his budget, and Ryan has announced his. Dueling budgets. Under the Ryan budget, even if you’re part of the infamous 1 percent, your local services will be cut. That road expansion to bring in more trucks for new businesses? Gone. Federal funds to help expand the local airport for business or tourism – nope. Shoring up collapsing bridges and ruined roads? Wait your turn. And for the 99 percent, it’s slash and burn. Local job training to help those out of work, help to reduce the increased class sizes, and more rental assistance for newly unemployed? Gone.

The United States is in debt. But the question is: Will spending cuts to support our communities help bring back our nation’s financial strength? As more and more people fall into poverty, become homeless, drop out of school and face chronic illnesses without treatment, the fundamental system of a working society crumbles. The result, simply put, is less ability to contribute to the economic system, which includes paying taxes as a member of that society. Those lost taxes will make it even more difficult to make up our deficit, or bring down our debt.


Pathway to prosperity: Prosperity for whom?

Congressman Paul Ryan recently released his latest budget proposal, which he called the “Pathway to Prosperity.” But if you look at the budget—even though it lacks specifics—you have to wonder, whose pathway to prosperity?

It’s doubtful he’s referring to the majority of Americans who fall in the infamous 99 percent income bracket. For those individuals, this budget could lead to even greater financial insecurity.

Two areas of particular concern are Social Security and Medicare, which could change radically if the “Pathway to Prosperity” is adopted.
Ironically, Congressman Ryan should understand the need to continue to provide safeguards against unpredictable misfortune. He was just 16 when he found his 55-year-old father dead of a heart attack. His family benefited from Social Security in the turbulent aftermath of his father’s death. Ryan even acknowledges he saved his Social Security survivor benefits and used them to help get through college.


Defense industry scare tactics won’t create jobs

As indicated by the recent rollout of the House Republican budget strategy, the gloves are off in the battle to define the country’s spending priorities in the run-up to the November elections. But neither party adequately addresses the largest item in the discretionary budget: the Pentagon.

The Obama Administration’s approach to curbing runaway defense spending has been far too timid, while Republicans – from Paul Ryan to Mitt Romney – actually want to increase spending substantially beyond current levels.

A key player in this debate is the defense industry, which is pulling out all the stops to get the Pentagon a free pass from future budget cutting. The industry’s main trade group, the Aerospace Industries Association, has financed two studies raising the specter of a million jobs lost from planned Pentagon cuts.


Uncertainty and unpredictability in state corporate income taxes

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. But few Americans realize the scope and breadth of the taxes businesses pay and how uncertain and unpredictable that tax burden has become.

Most Americans would be shocked to learn that the 50 states have 50 different sets of standards for determining when an out-of-state corporation is subject to a state’s corporate income tax. These rules are so vague and unclear that costly litigation is often unavoidable. It is deplorable -- embarrassing even -- that the most advanced and sophisticated economy on the planet labors under such a confusing, uncertain and unfair system. 


To stop insider trading in DC, shrink government

Widespread outrage over the recently passed STOCK Act, however justified, is misplaced, as it is directed toward a symptom, not the disease. The disease is the ever-growing micromanagement of the economy by the federal government. You can’t cure a cold by blowing your nose, and you can’t “cure” Washington by trying to restrict information flows.

Inside political information is valuable because legislative actions can have huge effects on industries, and there are few industries these days that don’t face political risks or opportunities in Washington. Subsidies, bailouts, taxes, regulations governing how you can do business---these are just a few of the ways in which Washington can make life miserable (or pleasant) for a corporation.


Standing up for our veterans

America is blessed with the strongest and most capable military in the world. Our service members execute challenging missions in the most complex environment on earth. They leave the military with skills that our economy needs to compete. It is our responsibility to take care of them when they return. Unfortunately, upon returning home, many of our veterans discover that even though they have the training to perform a wide variety of jobs, the system often times fail to recognize that training. This can delay a veteran’s transition into civilian life by requiring them to obtain redundant certifications which cost time and money and can prevent them from acquiring the good paying jobs they deserve.
Many states, including Washington, Virginia, and Utah have passed legislation to take their military training into account. We’re simply calling on the federal government to do the same. The Veterans Skills to Jobs Act would cut through the red tape and make government more efficient by allowing relevant military training to satisfy certification requirements for Federal licenses. There is no reason why a veteran who is certified to work on airplanes in Afghanistan should have to take redundant trainings to work on the same planes right here at home.


Ryan's budget jeopardizes America's national security

The Ryan-Republican budget, released yesterday and endorsed by Gov. Romney, claims to make America’s national security “government’s number one priority.” Unfortunately, the numbers say otherwise.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget slashes the very national security tools that made America the world’s superpower in the first place. In so doing, Ryan’s budget manages to forget the lessons of our past, ignore the realities of present conflicts and dangerously misunderstand the challenges we face in the 21st Century.


Ryan budget hits vulnerable Americans hardest

It has been said time and time again that a budget is a moral document: a statement of our values and priorities as a nation. Last week the House Budget Committee passed a FY 2013 budget resolution that shamelessly cut taxes for oil companies and the wealthiest Americans, will destroy several million American jobs, and ends the Medicare guarantee for many current and all future beneficiaries. I will refrain from making judgments on the morality of those favoring this Ryan Republican Budget plan and instead say that this budget is a highly irresponsible, unjust fiscal plan for our nation. It benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Of the nondefense budget cuts presented in the Republican Budget, 62 percent is cut from programs for lower-income Americans, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. The cuts come from Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, school aid, Pell Grants, Head Start, and job training programs, among other things. These programs aid the hardest hit by the economic crisis, as well as the weakest and most vulnerable in society.


Upcoming vote in Senate could raise gas prices

On Thursday President Obama addressed high gas prices noting, “I understand what folks are going through because it wasn’t that long ago that I was having to fill up my gas tank … and it takes a big bite out of folks’ paychecks.” The president may understand the hardships many Americans are facing, but this policy stance indicates that he simply doesn’t care.

Despite the president’s appeal to Americans in distress, he continues to call for discriminatory tax increases on the companies that produce, refine, and transport gasoline. This added expense will be absorbed by consumers at local gas stations. This week, the U.S. Senate will get the opportunity to oppose the president’s reckless agenda to increase the price of gasoline.