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Presentation by Peggy Venable To the National Federation of Republican Women
It is exciting to be here with you today. You are important policy leaders in your communities and across the country. Citizens for a Sound Economy has enjoyed a working partnership with you on a number of economic issues. Many of you know CSE – our mission is to support free market issues. Our one-quarter million members across the country believe government taxes, spends and regulates too much.
The discussion today is titled "Hot Topics." Certainly, the issues which were on the front burner on September 10 were relegated to the back burner after the morning of the despicable terrorist attack on America September 11th.
I was thinking about it as I drove into San Antonio that it is fitting the NFRW is meeting here – the site of the Alamo where men sacrificed their lives for freedom.
Make no mistake about it – the September 11 attack was not done in the name of religion but was an attack on freedom. America is the greatest experiment in freedom the world has known. We are the fear of totalitarian governments and the beacon of light for those living under oppression.
After September 11th, that beacon of light is still shining brightly.
With the tremendous outpouring of patriotism and bipartisanship, we have opportunity to help lead the country back to economic security – the economic security needed to fuel this new war on terrorism.
I might add – with no small degree of pride which we Texans are quick to exhibit – that we are in good hands under the leadership of President Bush. Additionally, the cabinet and advisors he has tapped would lead us to wonder if one could have predicted that he would meet such daunting challenges so early in his administration. I believe we are in the best possible hands.
But it is incumbent upon us as policy leaders to help this Administration and Congress. We must begin to brace for the future and prepare against any new threats to our liberties. Terrorists may have attacked our buildings and destroyed our property, but they cannot extinguish the ingenuity and spirit that built our nation. As a nation, we face two important challenges. First, we must secure our people against further attacks and terrorist threats. Second, we must rebuild and strengthen our economy, unleashing the entrepreneurship and creativity that has generated the prosperity we enjoy today. We need an economic growth agenda.
CSE has outlined an economic growth agenda. Let’s first focus on tax policy, and then on energy policy – both important to our economic security.
Regarding Tax Policy:
We need to accelerate the tax cuts and make them permanent. The President signed a pro-growth tax cut. The cuts could have a faster positive impact if we accelerate the implementation schedule. And, equally important, if the tax cuts are made permanent, it would have a positive effect NOW on investment decisions. It is imperative that we make sure the death tax is dead!
We need to reduce the Capital Gains Tax. We need to give investors incentives and confidence to take risks. A lower tax on risked capital provides the right signal and will increase risk-taking. Americans pay as much as 25 percent in capital gains taxes – the highest among developed countries and 38 percent higher than other countries.
Those of you in business recognize the need to Accelerate Depreciation Schedules. The current tax code discourages capital investment by prohibiting businesses from deducting full investment expenses in the year of purchase. Unlike all other expenses, deductions for investments must be made over many years according to complicated depreciation schedules. Congress should streamline these schedules to lessen the disincentive on capital investment and help expand the economy.
We must also Cut the Payroll Tax: The majority of American workers pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes. This is a quick, uncomplicated way to get more cash into the hands of consumers. And as we all know, government does not create wealth – we do. The more money consumers have in their pockets, the stronger the economy will be.
In addition to changes in tax policy, we must enact an Energy Policy which provides us with energy security.
We have often said that this country has had no energy policy for at least 10 years – but I think we have had an energy policy which strangles the industry – those tentacles of burdensome regulations and taxes which choked our domestic energy production and discouraged independent oil producers.
It’s time to provide incentives and opportunities for domestic energy.
No one denies that fuel and energy markets are global. However, our ever-increasing dependence on foreign sources of energy has virtually handed control of the U.S. economy to foreign governments - some of whom may be directly linked to the tragedies in New York and Washington, D.C. We should enact the Bush energy plan.
We must reduce our dependence on foreign energy – particularly since much of it comes form the Middle East. We MUST allow exploration in ANWR – the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. The President is proposing drilling in an area of frozen tundra, which is relative to the size of Dulles Airport in Virginia. This can be done in an environmentally sensitive manner. The time is NOW to authorize exploration in ANWR.
We must support the President’s decision NOT to regulate CO2. You know this is a backdoor means to enact the ill-conceived Kyoto Protocol, or the "Global Warming Treaty" which is not an environmental treaty but is a wealth-redistribution. Only one country has ratified the treaty – Romania. Those who have criticized this administration for refusing to implement the treaty which was unanimously defeated in the Senate – Democrats and Republicans alike realize it is bad public policy.
This treaty is being supported by radical so-called environmental groups whose agenda is not to protect the environment. I saw a memo sent from the Sierra Club to their senior staff. They said it would appear unpatriotic to continue to "Bash Bush" (their words) and that they had taken the "Bush Bashing" off their web site for now and they would reassess the situation in a month.
Interestingly, I had made a copy of the Sierra Club’s web site prior to September 11 and copied it post-September 11th…sure enough, they had taken the anti-Bush rhetoric down.
I had been on their web site because it was cited in some textbooks up for review before the State Board of Education – interestingly, I was just visiting with the Chairman of the SBOE before this session.
CSE had reviewed science textbooks up for consideration by the SBOE and after sending out just one email, we had two hundred responses from individuals who were outraged that the textbooks taught radical environmental dogma and promoted an activist agenda…these weren’t textbooks – they were promoting a socialist not a free-market perspective. The textbooks demonized use of fossil fuel, the energy industry, ranching and farming – those textbooks do not reflect Texans’ views. And we will work to make sure those textbooks are NOT adopted in Texas. If you aren’t involved in the textbook selection process in your state, I’d recommend you get involved – and feel free to call us to share information.
At CSE we are proposing other measures to stabilize our economy:
We should allow mergers and acquisitions in the airline industry: The cost-reducing synergies achieved through mergers may be the only way to save the airline industry without direct taxpayer subsidy. Antitrust prosecution would be more than adequate to address any alleged consumer harm that may result down the road.
We should also demand Reasonable Liability protections: The families of passengers on the hijacked planes have legitimate grievances that deserve to be adjudicated in the civil courts, but we can't allow greedy plaintiffs’ trial lawyers to shakedown the airlines. It was the terrorists that caused the damage at the World Trade Center. The airlines should not be liable for any property damage or loss of business.
Trial lawyers may be salivating at the prospect of class action lawsuits – but we in Texas and across the country know that often those lawsuits do little to help the plaintiffs but line the pockets of trial lawyers.
In times like these, the true colors of individuals and organizations come out. Did any of you see the AP article on the American Trial Lawyers’ first-ever moratorium against lawsuits relating to the terrorist attack – of one month. But if you read on, they then listed the likely targets of lawsuits – the airlines, the private security companies, the FAA, the Twin Towers, and the list goes on and on. We must send a strong message that these lawsuits will be viewed as un-American. We all mourn the events of September 11, but likely none of those entities could have foreseen – or perhaps even averted – those events. And trial lawyers should not benefit from those tragedies.
Still more needs to be done in the area of regulatory reform.
President Bush should introduce a 90-day moratorium on new federal regulations that could hamper economic growth. In addition, each agency should review existing regulations to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that restrict or constrain economic growth. Rules subject to statutory or judicial deadlines or those responding to health or safety emergencies would be exempt.
And at a time when Americans are willing to fund this new war on terrorism, we should not lose sight of the fact that on September 10th, we were taxed at the highest rate in peacetime history. We need to make sure we are focused on the task at hand and don’t create new programs which our children and grandchildren will be paying for long after their immediate benefit has been met.
Our government needs to be prudent in its spending. Our war against terrorism will likely be a costly endeavor that will take an increasing share of tax dollars we send to Washington. Fiscal discipline will be required to ensure that wasteful government programs do not detract from our focus.
We have a daunting task – but one I believe Americans are ready to meet. We are a beacon of freedom – and that freedom is dependent upon economic liberty and a sound economy. Our strength and our ability to defend the freedom our forefathers shed their blood to ensure us -- relies in large part on the strength of our economy. A thriving economy is an important component of America's security; as we move to eradicate terrorism we cannot forget what made our country strong in the first place.
We are blessed to be Americans – may God Bless our America!