Economy & Budget

Congress must support swipe fee reform

As a seventh grade student, I thought I knew how a bill became a law. Now, as a small business owner – I’ve learned that there’s always fine print. And that fine print usually means the powerful lobbyists and deep pocketed special interests fight entrepreneurs like me on policy issues.

Last year to much fanfare, the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which was signed into law by President Obama.

But despite what the U.S. Constitution says about how laws are made, this became just another hurdle for the deep-pocketed self interests of those on Wall Street. Ironically, many of the same people and businesses who caused the financial crisis were the targets of reform and are now the ones working to undue it.  

Right now the big banks and credit card companies, including many that were bailed out by taxpayers just two years ago, are spending millions of dollars to peddle their influence at the highest levels of government in a direct assault on small business owners. Along the way, the banks have enlisted some powerful Members of Congress to do their bidding, some of whom are actually married to bank executives.  And yesterday, their allies in Congress  filed a bill to “study and delay” the rules that would reform debit card swipe fees as an amendment to a small business measure (S. 493) currently on the Senate floor.


The need for the NewDEAL

As President Obama made clear in his State of the Union address, we can’t just stand still to win the future. To compete in the global economy, we need to find solutions that are both pro-growth and progressive.

Too often in our nation’s capitol, these two ideals are seen as opposed to each other. We reject this false choice. As former mayors, we saw first-hand how solutions that were both pro-growth and progressive could help to grow the economy in a way that expands opportunity for everyone. As we met our fellow leaders of towns and states around the country, we noticed that many of them were getting similar success from pro-growth progressive solutions.


Grow the economy with common sense reforms

President Ronald Reagan once said, "The difference between the path toward greater freedom or bigger government is the difference between success and failure; between opportunity and coercion; between faith in a glorious future and fear of mediocrity and despair."
The two worlds he described are both possibilities as America's future stands at a crossroads. Soaring debt threatens our economic growth, job creation and America's preeminence in the world. However, thanks to the tenacity and commitment of the American people, we can choose the path of prosperity and liberty.


Reality-based patent reform

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just issued its long-awaited and comprehensive report entitled, "The Evolving IP Marketplace.” Review of this study is critical for a complete understanding of our country’s economic future, particularly job creation through innovation.

Intellectual property now comprises the great majority of corporate worth – about 80 percent. Today’s situation is in sharp contrast to a mere 40 years ago when land, buildings, machinery, etc. made up the vast share of corporate value. Thus commercialized new ideas will create our next generation of industries, manufacturing plants, and jobs.


Future shock inevitable from foreign-owned U.S. debt

In the 1986 ad known as “The Deficit Trials,” a young prosecutor speaks on behalf of a poor, tattered generation that by 2017 has suffered the consequences of failing to address what was then a $2 trillion national debt. Today, at $14.3 trillion, or $45,800 for every man, woman and child in America, Washington continues to put off the tough decisions necessary to solve the rapidly growing problem.  

Greeting members at home in their districts this week is a powerful ad by Citizens Against Government Waste, airing nationally on a host of cable networks. The “Chinese Professor” ad pays homage to “The Deficit Trials,” warning about the potential results of continuing down the current path of excessive spending and borrowing. It will not just be a lower standard of living for future generations. The Chinese, who own the largest foreign share of U.S. debt, will have the American people “working” for them.


A bipartisan solution to the fiscal crisis

It turns out you can have an adult conversation in Washington.

Last week, Erskine Bowles -- Co-Chair of President Obama’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform — addressed more than 20,000 citizen leaders on a national telephone town hall for our organization, No Labels. His message: the need for a bipartisan solution to the fiscal crisis confronting America.


Fed and inflation

Last week, the subcommittee which I chair held a hearing on monetary policy and rising prices. Whether we consider food, gasoline, or clothing, the cost of living is increasing significantly. True inflation is defined as an increase in the money supply.  All other things being equal, an increase in the money supply leads to a rise in prices. Inflation’s destructive effects have ruined societies from the Roman Empire to Weimar Germany to modern-day Zimbabwe. 

Blame for the most recent round of price increases has been laid at the feet of the Federal Reserve's program of credit expansion for the past three years. The current program, known as QE2, sought to purchase a total of $900 billion in US Treasury debt over a period of 8 months. Roughly $110 billion of newly created money is flooding into commodity markets each month.


GOP goes weak at knees on budget cuts

Back in “the big one” (WWII) some months after D-day the allies had pushed the Nazis back and the battle lines had been redrawn. The hard-fought successes of Normandy had given the forces of liberty and freedom hope and a new energy. The momentum was finally moving in the right direction, and ground was being gained. All the planning, preparation, and training had paid off. However, the price of the sacrifice was incalculably high.   


Working toward fiscal responsibility

The Fiscal Year 2012 Budget will be written over the upcoming weeks. There needs to be an adult conversation about the inability of the Federal Government to continue borrowing on the backs of future generations. It is important to understand the process and the influences that will lead the House Budget Committee to the final product. 

With mandatory spending on the verge of exceeding Federal revenues it is time to stop the reckless actions of Washington. This year, we observed what happens to the process when Congress, or other levels of government, irresponsibly do not follow their Constitutional obligations of completing a budget.


Medical innovation demands policy support

This week I had the honor of participating in a panel conversation, hosted by Research!America, that included the heads of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was an exciting opportunity to speak alongside representatives of the U.S. medical innovation infrastructure that helps shape medical research and the availability of novel advances, like innovative medicines, for American patients.
In a time of fiscal re-growth and deficit reduction, this conversation was important and timely, focusing on the role that healthcare can play in America’s economy.