The beginning of the beginning

By March 15, 2013General

That would be a good way to describe what’s happening in Congress this week. It’s the beginning of the statutorily mandated budget season with the House and Senate Budget Committees majorities unveiling their budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2014. This is the first time  that’s happened in four years and, for manufacturers, that’s a positive step towards getting our fiscal house in order  We have long said that it’s time to end the tendency over the past several years to ricochet from one economic precipice to another. It’s is time for comprehensive entitlement and tax reforms that would result in getting our nation’s debt and deficit picture under control.

So this week’s action is something that has been sorely needed. Broadly speaking, both the House Republican and Senate Democratic proposals call for tax reform, both seek to reform the growth of entitlement spending and both seek to stabilize the debt. Of course though, as with the way most things have gone in Washington over the past several years, that’s about where the similarities end because how each plan proposes to accomplish these goals is entirely at odds and which one prevails will have many real, significant and lasting impacts on the nation.

We are pleased that the House Republican budget would result in a balanced ledger in 10 years. And we’re pleased that the Senate Democrats in their budget include a nod toward tinkering with a long-sacred cow of entitlement spending although there is a still a long way to go. As NAM’s president Jay Timmons said in the recently released Growth Agenda, “The United States needs a comprehensive plan for economic growth. A bipartisan commitment in Washington to pro-growth policies will make our nation a more competitive place to do business.”  This plan has typically started with the budget process.

This is not to say that just because budgets have been marked up in the respective House and Senate Committees that we’re in for smooth sailing from here. By no means is that likely to be the case, however, as we said at the outset, this is the beginning of the beginning. And we hope it’s the beginning of a real and substantive conversation that will move beyond talking points and allow for a conversation about what the United States needs to fully emerge from the recent economic slow-down and once again compete.

Manufacturers have many ideas of what’s needed to fully accomplish this and those are described in the Growth Agenda and to once again use Jay’s words “manufacturers need our elected leaders to choose policies that make this country a better place to invest, a better place to innovate and a better place from which to export. They must choose policies that strengthen our workforce so that it meets the needs of manufacturing in the 21st century.” This means that we need tax reform, entitlement reform and spending reform that will allow our nation and its businesses to know what the path is and to know that the economy is on sound footing and government is not hampering growth. Tackling these tough issues will not be easy but it is essential for us to compete in the global economy. The NAM will continue to advocate for the policies that will succeed in Making America strong.

Carolyn Lee

Carolyn Lee

Senior Director of Tax Policy at National Association of Manufacturers
Carolyn Lee is Senior Director of Tax Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation's largest industrial trade association. In this role Carolyn is responsible for portions of the NAM's tax portfolio including issues individual marginal tax rates - which are a top priority for small and medium sized manufacturers - as well tax issues relating to investment income, energy efficiency and capital cost recovery.
Carolyn Lee

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