July 26, 2012

“It’s no way to run a railroad.”
Brady, Scalise, Shimkus & Paulsen Discuss Administration’s Record on Taxes, Regulations, and Job Creation at Ripon Society Breakfast


WASHINGTON, DC – The Ripon Society hosted a breakfast discussion this past Tuesday morning with Representatives Kevin Brady (TX-8), Steve Scalise (LA-1), John Shimkus (IL-19), and Erik Paulsen (MN-3), who not only talked about their work on the Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce Committees, but discussed the Obama Administration’s record on taxes, regulations, and job creation, as well.

“The year is unprecedented in tax policy,” stated Brady, who is a member of the Ways & Means Committee and serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade. “It’s no way to run a railroad. Our hope is that this will be the last extension of these temporary provisions. Next week, the House will act on legislation to make these provisions permanent. It will also include our principles on tax reform, with a timetable -- a process for a guaranteed up or down vote next year on fundamental tax reform. Again, we can’t continue the tax code we have today.

“The Ways & Means Committee, under Dave Camp’s leadership, has done a great job of laying out fundamental reform. We’ve held some 20 hearings and will continue to not only do that, but lay a foundation for the other Members of the House -- most of whom have never taken up fundamental reform, most of whom weren’t even around for the FSC/ETI battles in the mid-2000s.” Making reference to one particular part of the tax code that needs to be revised, Brady continued: “We’re unveiling an updated report on the death tax. It’s still the number one reason that family-owned businesses and farms aren’t able to be passed down to the next generation. It has hurt the economy far more than any revenue it has generated. In fact, most studies show we could gain more revenue by abolishing the death tax than keeping it place.”

In his remarks following Congressman Brady, Scalise – who serves on the Energy & Commerce Committee -- discussed the Administration’s response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the impact both the spill and the response has had on his Louisiana District and the rest of the Gulf Coast.

“The President took advantage of that crisis to put a moratorium on deepwater drilling,” Scalise noted, “something his own scientific experts said was not only a bad idea, but something that would reduce safety in the Gulf and lead to an exodus of a lot of skilled workers and assets. Unfortunately, his own experts turned out to be correct. We’ve seen almost 20,000 jobs lost since that disaster. Safety is higher, but right now you can’t get a permit. People who play by the rules -- who had great safety records before and who continue to maintain the highest safety standards -- are having a very difficult time getting consistent permitting policies in place. It has led to a lot of jobs lost.

“We’ve passed legislation out of our committee to put an expedited permit request in place with consistent rules. All of us who play by the rules just want a consistent referee that’s wearing the jersey, that’s just interpreting the rules – not out there with their own agenda. Unfortunately, on Energy & Commerce, we get to see and hold to task a lot of these different federal agencies that seem to want to do their own thing. We see it with the EPA every day. We have jurisdiction over the EPA, and I don’t think there’s one federal agency that’s been out destroying more jobs through radical regulations that they’re imposing in spite of what the law actually says. We’ve dealt with it on greenhouse gas emissions, we’ve dealt with it on dust particles, and so many other things.”

Scalise’s fellow committee-member on Energy & Commerce, Representative John Shimkus, also discussed energy policy during the breakfast Tuesday. When asked if the natural gas sector could spur a manufacturing renaissance in this country, the Illinois lawmaker answered unequivocally: “Yes. Natural gas is used for numerous things in the agricultural community, in manufacturing, in chemical production. It is a major commodity product that will do nothing but help us become a natural leader again in manufacturing. This natural gas boom is for real. It’s safe. We’ve fracked for over a hundred years. A long time ago, I said ‘Don’t touch natural gas for anything but some manufacturing and home heating because the prices were so high.’ But, you can’t make that case anymore.”

When asked about the economic climate and the fact that the President’s jobs council has apparently not met in six months, Shimkus was equally blunt. “This guy isn’t serious about job creation if he has a jobs council and they haven’t met since January in the worst recession in our lifetime,” he declared. “This is the same guy who established the Bowles-Simpson Commission because we were beating him up on the debt. Yet two budget cycles later, there’s been nary a word of that in any budget proposal after his own commission said, ‘These are the reforms we need.’ So he’s all talk. He needs to leave, and we need to move on with a new President.”

Paulsen, the junior Representative of Tuesday’s panel, talked about his work on the Ways & Means Committee and his efforts to save jobs among medical device makers in his home district in Minnesota.

Last month, the Congressman’s Protect Medical Innovation Act passed the House. If signed into law, it would repeal an excise tax on manufacturers. “It’s a top priority for me,” he stated, referring to the tax repeal, “I’m using my co-Chair position on the Medical Technology Caucus and position on the Ways & Means Committee to draw attention to an American success story -- Minnesota’s story of innovation with device companies.”

Paulsen also noted the importance of a U.S.-Russia trade partnership and what his committee is doing to address it. “The biggest agenda for the business community on the trade front this year is PNTR with Russia. It’s the 11th largest economy -- 140 million consumers. It is really essential for us to move forward on that this year because Russia is going into the WTO – it’s in the WTO essentially. There’s nothing we can do about that. The United States will get left behind if we’re not engaged in this early. I think the Ways & Means Committee has really generated -- from an educational prospective -- why this is so critical.”

In addition to their Committee work and their other responsibilities as Members of the House, the four Representatives also briefly discussed one other thing they have in common – they are roommates who share a house while in Washington, DC. “We only have one working car among us,” Brady joked. “So we’re always emailing each other, ‘Can I get a ride?’ When our wives come, we ask if we can borrow the car so we can get groceries. People think we have a glamorous life. It’s a lot like college.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

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