Many people believe that nothing gets done in Washington anymore because the process has been paralyzed by partisan gridlock. There’s a persistent myth that both parties can’t agree on anything anymore and that nothing short of one party rule will ever get anything accomplished now.
While both parties don’t agree on much these days, there is common ground to build on if someone would just take charge in building it. The problem isn’t political partisanship, that’s existed in Washington since the founding fathers. The problem today is lack of leadership.
Take tax reform for example. Pro-growth tax reform, as illustrated in the bipartisan 1986 Tax Reform Act, closes loopholes that allow for overseas tax shelters and eliminates special interest subsidies in order to collect revenue more efficiently while cutting tax rates across the board at the same time to incentivize businesses to keep money and jobs here instead of overseas, thus broadening the tax base.
Both parties are aware of this, which is why several members of both parties understand that pro-growth tax reform is the only way to solve the problems inherent in our tax code. Thirty-six Democrat, Republican, and Independent senators, 100 Republican and Democrat congressmen, the bipartisan “Gang of Six” plan, and the president’s own Simpson-Bowles debt commission have all come out in strong support of pro-growth tax reform. It has more support among both parties than anything else, including raising tax rates even higher.
So if both parties in both chambers are all for it, what’s the hold up? Look at the White House.
Obama has failed to lead in implementing pro-growth tax reform because he’s too far left to cut tax rates. He’d rather raise them, despite the fact that we already have the highest corporate tax rate in the world at 39.2% (including state and local taxes), leaving us with a huge disadvantage competitively in the age of outsourcing and globalization. Passing “the Buffett rule” would also double the tax rate on investment income at the shareholder level to 30%, up from 15% today. The new 30% capital gains rate would be the third highest in the world, behind only Denmark and Chile, which will only push hundreds of billions of investment dollars overseas to global competitors.
He justifies this approach by claiming the rich “aren’t paying their fair share.” Yet according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the actual amount paid in taxes by the wealthy is higher than it was before the recession while the effective income tax rate of the richest 1% is 29.5% when including all federal taxes, or about twice the 15.1% paid by middle class families. In fact, the CBO states the richest 20% of Americans (averaging $273K in pre-tax income, or what is considered to be “rich” according to Obama) pay 68% of the federal tax burden, while the bottom 20% of earners paid just three-tenths of a percent of the total tax burden.
What he also doesn’t bother to mention is that according to liberal estimates, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on the rich would bring in $829 billion extra revenue during the next decade. Last year’s budget deficit was $1.6 trillion alone. In other words, what raising taxes on the rich would bring in over 10 years only covers 6 months worth of deficit spending. On top of that, the CBO projects Obama’s budgets to rack up $9.5 trillion worth of deficits over that same time period. Raising tax rates on the rich would only cover 8.7% of that.
Another area where the president’s failed to lead on building on common ground is domestic energy development. There is broad bipartisan support for building the Keystone XL pipeline – a $7 billion, 1,700 mile project that would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast. According to TransCanada, the energy company seeking to build the project with us, “Keystone XL is shovel-ready. TransCanada is poised to put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline -- pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs -- in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs that would be created across the U.S. Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local goods and service providers.”
Democratic Senators Kent Conrad (N.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Warner (Va.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Bob Casey (Pa.) all came out in support of it. The last vote taken in the Senate showed a 56-42 majority in favor of the project.
Yet Obama has failed to lead on passing this bill as well as other opportunities to develop domestic energy resources and has instead chosen to subsidize more failed green energy companies and campaign donors and continues to flush taxpayer money down the toilet because he cares more about environmentalist voters and the green energy lobby.
His only answer to anything just seems to be more spending. His $447 billion “American Jobs Act” was blocked by Democrats, Republicans and Independents because it was evident that the bill was more about tax hikes than job creation, did not pass the cost-benefit analysis test and would not have put a dent in the unemployment rate.
Bloomberg surveyed 34 economists to gauge the impact of the plan. Of those, 28 economists estimated how many jobs would be created by the bill. The median estimate was 275,000 jobs in 2012 and 13,000 jobs in 2013 for a total of 288,000 temporary jobs — far fewer than the nearly 2 million claimed by the president. That adds up to about $1.55 million worth of taxpayer money for every potential job it would create to lower the unemployment rate by 0.2% at best.
Democratic Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) voted against the bill when it was brought up. Other Democrats like Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.), voted to let the bill advance but said they were opposed to it without changes.
“I can’t support tax gimmicks that do little to create jobs and don’t address the need for a bipartisan deficit-cutting plan,” Tester said in a statement.
“The present proposal looks good at first glance; it sounds good on a TV bite, but … I do not believe it’s smart policy and it does not go where the real economic division lies in our country,” Webb said.
“The truth of the matter is, most Democrats know just as well as I do that passing another stimulus and tax hike is a lousy idea — which is why the president is having such a hard time convincing many Democrats to vote for it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
Moderate Republicans like Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) couldn’t get behind it either. “Job creation is indisputably our nation’s number one priority,” Snowe said, “Unfortunately, yet again, the Senate was faced with a take-it-or-leave-it package to which no amendments would be allowed.”
Collins said in a statement that “rather than working together to reach consensus on a plan that could truly make a difference, the Senate is once again voting on legislation designed not to help struggling Americans, but instead to score political points. This isn’t legislating; it is political theater.”
“I don’t believe the potential in this act for creating jobs justifies adding another $500 billion to our almost $15 trillion national debt,” Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said. “In fact, I think the most important thing we can do to improve our economy, reduce unemployment, and create jobs is to bring our national debt under control.”
The bottom line is anyone who’s not on the far left knows that public sector spending, or “investment” as they’re now calling it, does not create jobs. Those on the far left, including Obama, will say whatever it takes allow out of control spending to continue uninterrupted so they can continue to leverage pork and subsidies to their political advantage.
But the rest of us understand that only by incentivizing private sector spending will we see investment go up and unemployment go down. That’s something Mitt Romney understands after working in the private sector for 25 years, something Obama doesn’t have a clue about. As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney cut spending by $1.6 billion, balanced a budget without raising taxes and turned a $3 billion deficit into a $700 million surplus which gave his state a credit rating upgrade and lowered unemployment all the way down to 4.7% - all while working with an 85% Democratic state legislature.
It should then come as no surprise that the latest AP-Gfk poll shows that 47% of Americans believe Romney can lead the way in fixing the political gridlock in Washington and reaching across the aisle to implement bipartisan solutions, while only 37% think Obama can.
Because the records speak for themselves.