Last Monday, I traveled to four different cities throughout the Sixth District to meet with local business leaders and job creators. The goal of the meetings was to start a conversation about what government does well and what it doesn’t do so well to help businesses succeed in these tough economic times. These meetings are just the beginning of our conversation about America’s economic recovery, but I wanted to share with you some highlights of what I learned.
In general, companies are nervous about what’s going on in Washington. The underlying theme of the day was “uncertainty.” A restaurant owner acknowledged that getting to the 50 employee threshold would be very easy for them. But with passage of the Health Care reform bill, they would be looking at an additional tax if they did not offer qualifying health coverage for all 50 of their employees. As a result, businesses in that situation are more prone to remain under the threshold, effectively halting job growth.
A manufacturer said that 20% of business is energy consumption. Cap-and-trade has him second guessing any expansion or growth of his business without assurances from Congress that cap-and-trade will not be enacted. He isn’t confident that the risk to hire more help and expand his business is worth it or even affordable with a national energy tax looming in Washington.
Burdensome regulations through taxes, waste management and property development were also cited by almost every person on our panels. Some of the problems were more local at the county level, but the problem is clearly top-down in nature. Government is so focused on spending your money that when they run out, they don’t know how to stop. They simply look for more revenue. And that comes at the cost of every business owner who is forced to charge more for products and services.
What results are unfunded mandates from the federal government dictated to the states, so states cut off funding for county and city services to pay for their new federal obligations. Next, local government looks for ways to find new revenue. For instance, they may force businesses to recycle liquids that would otherwise evaporate, charging that business a fee for a hazardous waste permit. The additional costs incurred by the businesses are passed directly on to the consumer. Government is a poor regulator and even worse competitor because there are no risks involved when they make the rules and have a seemingly endless supply of cash provided by you the taxpayer.
If government must get involved in the private sector, then they must create an environment that allows responsible business growth and expansion decisions. Then and only then will businesses get back to hiring new employees, re-hiring laid off workers, and getting Minnesota communities and our Nation back to work.
That’s why I held these forums- to hear what is and what isn’t working. I received some wonderful feedback, but more work still needs to be done. I encouraged everyone at the forums – and I’ll ask you – to send me your ideas on how to create jobs. Minnesota is the land of innovation and entrepreneurship and the best ideas aren’t going to come from committees and task forces in D.C., they are going to come from you. Email me at bachmann.house.gov or call my offices today so we can create a brighter economic future for ourselves and for our children.