Tax cuts, health care and stability in federal laws affecting small businesses were the themes on Friday when U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt led a discussion in Joplin on job creation.
About 50 area business and industry representatives attended the meeting at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce to hear Blunt’s views on what can be done to create jobs and to express to him their views.
Blunt characterized a 51-48 vote by Senate Democrats last week to extend income tax cuts for couples who make less than $250,000 as “a really bad vote.” If the bill, which no Republican in the Senate voted for, does become law, it would harm farms and small businesses, Blunt said.
Tax cuts that were enacted in the George Bush administration 10 years ago are due to expire this year. President Barack Obama asked Congress to extend those for incomes below $250,000 rather than $350,000. The Bush plan included a cut of estate taxes that would not stay in place if the law reverts to previous tax levels.
Susan Adams, of Able Body Manufacturing Co., said that Joplin company has 380 employees and is competing against companies overseas that do not have to figure health-care costs into their product. She questioned the effect of the Affordable Care Act on U.S. businesses.
Blunt said that some business owners tell him that if they have to provide health care to those who work over 20 hours a week, they will cut all full-time jobs but managers, and schedule employees to work 19 hours or less.
J. Chris Moos, assistant professor of international business at Missouri Southern State University, told Blunt that businesses need more stability in federal laws like the income tax, estate tax and health care act in order to plan. “In the business world, It’s hard to plan with short-term laws.”
Blunt agreed. He said he favors enacting a tax code for 10 years and extending it annually by one year so that taxes are clear for a decade at a time.
A number of things can go wrong for small businesses that have nothing to do with government regulations and “government shouldn’t add to it,” Blunt said.
Blunt said that U.S. energy is the key to job creation and domestic economic growth.
He said the U.S. has the largest reserves of recoverable natural gas in the world and has enough coal and oil to stop buying from the Middle East.
“We can be energy self-sufficient in a decade or a decade and a half, and why wouldn’t we want to? It’s crazy to buy things (oil) from people who don’t like you,” Blunt said.
He called for approval by the Obama administration to extend the Keystone XL pipeline through the northern U.S. to move crude oil to Texas refineries. He said most Americans understand the advantages of the pipeline.
“American energy is the most direct route to more American jobs,” he said.
Richard AuBuchon, general counsel and legislative affairs director for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, accompanied U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt to Joplin for the jobs roundtable on Friday.