Jobs & The Economy
1. Simplifying the Tax Code
The current complexity of our tax code puts small and medium sized businesses and their employees at a disadvantage. It also doesn’t make sense that many employees are paying a higher effective income tax rate than their employer. In the short term, we should extend the Bush tax cuts for 99% of Americans, but instead of keeping taxes at a 60-year low for the richest 1% percent, let’s take that money and use half of it to pay down the deficit, and half of it to help pay for college and job training for the middle class.
Americans spent an absurd amount of money filing their 2011 taxes, roughly $140 billion (source). For too long, politicians have approached just about every issue by adding a preference into the tax code, leading to monstrous complexity. Congress and the President should work together to achieve real reform of our nation's tax code broadening the base and lowering rates on all taxpayers. The model for this is the 1986 tax reform, which was an historic effort by a Republican President, a Democratic House and a Republican Senate to work together to get to the best result.
Tax reform should not be limited to the individual side of the tax code however. We must also reform our corporate tax code. Today we have a system that actually encourages successful corporations to keep their profits overseas instead of bringing them back to the United States where they can create American jobs. We should get rid of the loopholes, the credits, and deductions in the business tax code, and use the savings to lower the rate and change our corporate tax code to encourage growth.
2. Promoting and Strengthening American Manufacturing
Manufacturing jobs are the lifeblood of the Connecticut economy. The Industrial Revolution in America started in our state and if we do the right things, the next chapter of manufacturing success could also be written right here. The best way to do that is to better spend our federal dollars, so that we create American jobs instead of those overseas.
The federal government is the largest purchaser of manufactured goods in the entire world. When the federal government buys products from foreign entities, it hurts companies in Connecticut like Integro in New Britain, who make quality American products for our airports at globally competitive prices.
Working together, Republicans and Democrats, we can change our Buy American laws so that more American content is used in federal purchasing. We can allow federal buying managers to take American job creation and retention into account when awarding federal contracts. And we can all demand that more of our products, from toys to electronics, are manufactured in this country, instead of overseas.
3. Reinvesting in our Transportation Infrastructure
One of Connecticut's strengths is its geographic proximity to two of the country's largest economic centers, Boston and New York. Unfortunately, our transportation network is not what it needs to be to benefit from this advantage.
Connecticut needs a plan to reinvigorate its transportation infrastructure. A shocking percentage of our bridges and roadways are structurally deficient. We have some of the highest gas prices in the country, but provide too few alternatives for residents who want to get off of our gridlocked highways. A federal/state partnership to rebuild our roads and highways as well as offering commuters new ways to move around the state without getting in their cars will make the state a more attractive place for businesses, will shorten commute times and have the added benefit of putting thousands of people to work.
4. Making Education a Priority
Connecticut is never going to have the least expensive workforce. But today it has one of the best educated and most productive workforces, despite a deep and persistent achievement gap in our state. We need to ensure that the next generation, the entire generation, is ready to work with the skills that tomorrow's employers will need to keep jobs in Connecticut.
It is no longer enough to fight the wrong-headed cuts to basic education funding that the Republicans in Congress have proposed. We have to fight for every dollar and make sure that those dollars are spent smartly. We have to increase investment in the STEM disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Ensuring that we have a workforce that continues to excel is the best way to attract and retain large and small employers to our state.
5. Leading the Way in Renewable Energy
It’s clear that our haphazard and conflicting federal energy policies have failed – whether it’s the see-sawing price of gas at the pump, electrical rates, or the cost of heating oil, we’re surrounded by signals that America needs a new and bold energy strategy. Everyone knows that our fossil fuel resources are not going to last forever. Rather than exploiting these resources in more and more damaging ways to achieve smaller and smaller power yields, we need to move to new renewable technologies that are sustainable in the long-term. And Connecticut should lead the way in developing and building these new technologies.
First, we should be aggressively pursuing all forms of energy available to us. That means a robust and stable investment in renewable technologies like solar, wind, and fuel cells, many of which are made right here in Connecticut. It also means investing in efficiency – making sure our homes and businesses waste less electricity, that our cars use less gas, and that our manufacturers have the tools to cut down on power drain.