Too Bad House Gave Short Shrift to Tax Competitiveness

The House on Tuesday passed H.R. 1586, which supporters called the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, by a vote of 247-161. The text of the bill is available in The Congressional Record starting at page H6604.

The National Association of Manufacturers did not take a position on additional federal spending for the states in the bill, but in a “Key Vote” letter objected to the tax increases the legislation imposes on U.S. corporations with foreign earnings.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) cited the NAM’s letter in their floor remarks, and we thank them. Goodlatte’s remarks start at page H6611, and Rep. Camp’s begin on age H6615. Rep. Camp is Ranking Member of the tax-writing House Ways & Means Committee, and his comments noted not just the NAM’s arguments, but also the larger competitive point that U.S. corporate tax rates will soon be the highest in the world. In addition, Congress is raising taxes on manufacturers in the U.S. on an ad hoc basis, never holding a committee hearing to discuss in public the broader context. Camp:

These tax increases are a mistake, and, as I noted during the debate 2 weeks ago, most of these have never been the subject of any committee hearing or markup. It is possible that, upon review, some of these provisions might make sense if packaged with other changes to address the fact that our corporate tax rate is soon to be the highest among all industrialized nations. Our international tax system is deeply flawed, and our tax code is increasingly putting our companies and their employees at a tremendous competitive disadvantage.

Unfortunately, the canard about greedy corporations using “tax loopholes to ship American jobs overseas” has become a standard talking point in Congress and political campaigns. Committee hearings to examine the U.S. tax structure and competitiveness might help dispell the myths and encourage substantive debate.

Until those hearings are scheduled, we refer readers to page 5 of the NAM’s “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America,” for a broad overview of how tax policy affects U.S. competitiveness and a summary of the NAM’s recommendations.

And we append Rep. Camp’s remarks, which were a substantive, measured critique of H.R. 1586 and Congressional action on tax policy.

Mr. CAMP. Madam Speaker, last Friday we learned the unemployment rate is still at 9 1/2 percent, and it would be much higher if the official calculations also looked at the fast-growing number of Americans who have become so discouraged that they have given up looking for work. So while Congress should be here trying to find ways to get

Americans back to work, we’re here instead to complete action on another extension of stimulus that will also do nothing to reduce the unemployment rate in this country. In fact, this bill and the tax increases in it will hurt job creation.

According to the methodology of Dr. Christina Romer, the President’s chief economic adviser, the tax increases in this bill alone will destroy over 140,000 American jobs. In an open letter to Congress this week, the National Association of Manufacturers warned that “imposing $9.6 billion in tax increases on these companies will jeopardize the jobs of American manufacturing employees and stifle our fragile economy.” Similarly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned they would “impose draconian tax increases on American worldwide companies that would hinder job creation, decrease the competitiveness of American businesses, and deter economic growth.”

These tax increases are a mistake, and, as I noted during the debate 2 weeks ago, most of these have never been the subject of any committee hearing or markup. It is possible that, upon review, some of these provisions might make sense if packaged with other changes to address the fact that our corporate tax rate is soon to be the highest among all industrialized nations. Our international tax system is deeply flawed, and our tax code is increasingly putting our companies and their employees at a tremendous competitive disadvantage.

But we never got the opportunity to hear from the American employers or to offer any amendments. That’s a truly disappointing breakdown of the committee system, which is supposed to ensure that policies are carefully vetted and reviewed before passage.

I also want to mention the phantom tax increases that aren’t in this bill but we will soon see. The Speaker has already indicated that she opposes two of the spending offsets included in this bill. One relates to food stamps; the other is a cut in funding for a renewable energy spending program. Together, those items total $13.4 billion, more than half the total offsets in the bill. So next month when the House considers some other legislation, don’t be surprised to see another $13 billion in higher taxes to prevent those spending cuts.

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