JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – While many issues face the United States both nationally and internationally, none have the staying power like the nation’s economy. That was uppermost in the address U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-6, made at the Oct. 18 Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“With the country in its 43rd straight month with unemployment above 8 percent, things aren’t working and the people are asking why,” Price said to the local business leaders gathered at the Taylor Lodge.
Price says it is because there is a lot of uncertainty in the business community – both among small business owners and corporations – which make them hesitant to commit to expansion that in turn would create more jobs.
“Small businesses don’t know what the rules will be – what the tax rates will be,” he said. “So businesses are waiting to see what will happen when taxes could go up across the board if Congress does not extend the tax breaks that are due to expire Dec. 31.”
For too long, Congress has just “kicked the can down the road” – delayed any decisions by extending deadlines, he said.
If the Congress does not act to renew $500 billion in tax rates, they will expire.
“If you suck a half-billion dollars out of the economy next year, it would create a crisis. The economy is spluttering already,” he said. “I believe we need to end these temporary tax policies and get down to serious reform.”
Price said he does not believe the Congress will allow the “fiscal cliff” to occur and will hammer out yet another extension, but probably not until Christmas Eve or even New Year’s Eve if the two parties continue to exercise brinksmanship.
Ultimately, curing the budget deficits will come down to reforming Medicaid and Medicare, which comprise two-thirds of the annual budget. He said it is simply impossible to squeeze enough out of the remaining one-third to attack the deficit.
“There are too many baby boomers coming down the pipe who are living far longer than was ever envisioned when Medicare was funded,” he said.
The Republican plan, he said, will take the country from a “defined benefits plan” to a “defined contributions plan,” one of which will be Medicaid, so that it will be there for those who counted on that.
Price also said other reforms are needed:
• The country will also need to develop a more sound energy plan that will allow the U.S. to use its resources. The country has had a “delinquent” energy policy for decades, he said.
• The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act must be repealed or changed. He said it is too restrictive and is inhibiting banks and other financial institutions, which in turn prolongs the recession.
• Reform the tax code that will cut the corporate tax rate to 24 percent and bring it into line with worldwide corporate taxation, and allow the U.S. to be more competitive again.
• Reform the territorial tax code that forces corporations to keep an estimated $3.5 trillion in off-shore accounts to avoid taxation. If that money came into the U.S. economy, it would fuel new businesses and more jobs.