Time is Running Out for Congress to Act on the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB)

By November 13, 2013Economy, Trade

As time on the legislative calendar runs low, one of the easiest and most bipartisan ways for Congress to support manufacturing jobs in the United States is to pass the MTB, which expired 316 days ago.

Up until 2010, Congress had supported manufacturing for thirty years by suspending import taxes on necessary manufacturing inputs that are not available in the United States and must be imported from other countries. Congress has normally done so by voice vote but unfortunately 3 years ago, the linkage was erroneously made between the MTB and Congressional earmarks, which have been banned by Capitol Hill.

The NAM has long believed that the tariff-eliminating provisions contained in the MTB are not at all earmarks. For one thing, they are not directed spending. Instead, they amend the Harmonized Tariff Schedule which applies to all importers – which means they are not limited benefits, either.  So, while some in Congress continue contemplating whether these tax-cutting and job-supporting provisions meet the definition of an earmark, manufacturers in the United States are paying what will amount to a $748 million tax hike which greatly damages their global competitiveness and hinders their ability to retain and create new jobs.

Even well-known conservative leaders and staunch earmark opponents like Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist agree that the duty suspensions are not at all earmarks. In yesterday’s Washington Times piece entitled “Cutting job-killing tariffs,” Mr. Norquist aptly points out that tariffs are taxes and therefore, the MTB is a package of tax cuts. Period. The longer Congress takes to act, the longer manufacturers will be paying a quarter of a billion dollars annually on manufacturing inputs that aren’t even available domestically.  It’s just that simple.

Congress continues to delay action on this critically important bill despite the fact that it enjoys broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress and in fact, the House introduced H.R. 2708, the U.S. Job Creation and Manufacturing Competitiveness Act earlier this year.

Now both the House and Senate must act expeditiously to pass this critical legislation and give manufacturers the tariff relief they need to enhance their competitiveness, create jobs and invest in their U.S.-based manufacturing. The 2010 MTB passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 378-43 and in the Senate by unanimous consent – hardly evidence of a controversial measure.  It’s time for Congress to put their earmark-related questions aside and pass this commonsense, bipartisan jobs bill.

As Mr. Norquist states, the MTB “is a pro-growth tax cut, with broad support that helps American businesses to compete. Let’s pass it.”  It is long past due time to move this bill.


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