It’s a little early still to begin taking stock of all this year had to offer by way of policy and politics. After all, there’s likely to be another two or three new frontrunners in the GOP presidential pool by Thanksgiving. But I’m reasonably confident that I’ll be calling 2011 the Year of the Jobs Bill.
As Arizonans we’ve seen two very different approaches to spurring job creation, one at the state level and one at the federal level.
Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature set the standard for a jobs bill with the passage in February of a sweeping economic competitiveness package. The legislation featured, among other things, a phased-in lowering of the corporate income tax, a cut in the business property tax, an acceleration of the depreciation schedule for business personal property and a needed reform in the way the state taxes manufacturers that sell products outside the state. The bill also formalized the establishment of the Arizona Commerce Authority, which brings with it a level of rigor and accountability in the state’s economic development efforts the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
The bill’s passage sets a foundation for economic growth in this state that we’re likely to enjoy for many years to come. It’s a game-changer.
Then there was Washington’s jobs bill.
Rolled out before a joint session of Congress in a televised address, chatted up before the press in a White House Rose Garden event and then taken on the road in multi-state bus tour, we were urged by a fiery President Obama to contact our senators and representatives and tell them to “pass this bill!”
And then the $447 billion American Jobs Act landed in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate and was met not by senators clamoring to hitch their political fortunes to the president’s plan, but instead by a not so polite, “no thank you.”
I’d be hard pressed to tell you exactly what was in this supposedly must-pass bill, except for something about Warren Buffet’s secretary’s tax bracket being closely linked to economic recovery.
But not everything coming out of Washington is hitting the wrong notes on jobs.
Our own Sen. John McCain has announced the introduction of his Jobs Through Growth Act. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul (KY) and Rob Portman (OH) seeks to create a tax and regulatory environment where job creation can take place and gets government out of the way.
The McCain plan includes a simplification of the individual tax code taking the top rate down to 25 percent with fewer brackets and it reduces the top corporate tax rate down to 25 percent.
On the regulatory front, Sen. McCain seeks to institute a moratorium on new regulations. It was the right move when Gov. Brewer installed a regulatory moratorium on a state level and it’s the right thing to do nationally.
As the senator said last week referring to business leaders he meets with who are skittish about hiring, “they don’t know when the next regulation is coming down, they don’t know the next time they’re going to face a tax increase or be called, quote, millionaires.”
This doesn’t have to be a bitter partisan debate over the best path to job creation. As Sen. McCain said, “When agreements are made, presidents get credit.”
There are plenty of instances to cite where Democrats and Republicans have come together to get the job done. President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil in 1983 over Social Security. In 1986 on tax reform (which we’ll need to do again). President Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans in 1996 on welfare reform. Even the recent, albeit overdue, adoption of trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama was done in a bipartisan way.
In this year of the jobs bill, Arizonans are drawing up the job creation playbook. I hope Congress and the White House are paying attention.
• Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry