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Weekly remarks: Sen. Mike Johanns on taxes, President Obama on auto bailout

July 31, 2010 |  3:00 am


Weekly remarks by Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, as prepared by the Republican National Committee:

Hello, I’m Senator Mike Johanns from the great state of Nebraska.

I begin with a very sincere question for our President.

Isn’t it time, Mr. President, to tone down the rhetoric and to govern?

I’m a relatively new member of the U.S. Senate.  But, I’ve had an opportunity to serve in the Cabinet; to govern a state; and to serve as the Mayor of a wonderful community.

And I learned early on that to advance an agenda, a leader needs to pull people together.

You talk about creating jobs and that sounds good, but your policies just do the opposite – with a fiercely anti-business tone.

Let’s take an honest look at the impact of your agenda.

More than 80 percent of jobs are provided by the private sector.  Those are the jobs that put food on the table, pay the mortgage, and send our children to college.

Our small businesses generate 65 percent of the new jobs.

In Nebraska, we like to call them our Mom and Pop enterprises.

These are really good people who don’t want to get caught-up in a political debate.

They want to get up in the morning, head to work and find creative ways to build their businesses.

And your policies, Mr. President, are hurting them.

Let me give you an example: embedded in...

 your health care law – under Section 9006 – is a job-crushing provision.

It affects every business, every church and charity; every state and local government.

It requires all of them to track their purchases and when they hit $600 with any vendor in a year – for any services or supplies – your health care law requires them to file a 10-99 form with the IRS and with that vendor.

This will create a mountain of new paperwork – increasing it by as much as 2,000 percent, according to one study.Mike Johanns

One small business owner in Nebraska did an analysis and came to the conclusion it will cost his business an extra $15 thousand dollars a year.

Now that may not sound like much here in Washington, but to a small business in Nebraska, that would go a long way to putting another American to work.

Instead, that money will pay for paperwork… and for what purpose, Mr. President?

Even the National Taxpayer Advocate – a division of the IRS itself – predicts there will be little benefit and a mess of erroneous tax penalties.

This foolish policy hammers our business community when we should be supporting their job growth.

It’s only one example of how the Administration’s promise to support small businesses really rings hollow.

Then there’s the employer mandate in the health care law, which studies confirm will divert money from wages.

It forces employers to provide government-approved coverage or pay a tax of $2,000 per employee.

Another example: the new Medicare tax.

The majority of small businesses pay taxes at the individual level, so this new $210 billion tax will hurt; hitting businesses that employ between 20 and 200 workers especially hard.

And that’s one-quarter of our workforce.

To put it simply; your actions thus far, Mr. President, don’t encourage small businesses to hire employees. 

You’re signaling to the business owners that they best be very cautious, not only because of the flurry of new taxes and regulations, but also because a national energy tax is next on your agenda.

It's time to stop pushing anti-growth policies and start supporting a real job growth agenda. 

After all, what matters most is what we actually do, not what we say.

I'm Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska. Thank you for your time.

Obama in Detroit

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as prepared by the White House:

Hello everyone.  I’m speaking to you from the GM auto plant here in Detroit, Michigan, where a hopeful story is unfolding in a place that’s been one of the hardest hit in America.

In the twelve months before I took office, American auto companies lost hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Sales plunged 40 percent.  Liquidation was a very real possibility.  Years of papering over tough problems and failing to adapt to changing times – combined with a vicious economic crisis – brought an industry that’s been the symbol of our manufacturing might for a century to the brink of collapse.

We didn’t have many good options.  On one hand, we could have continued the practice of handing out billions of taxpayer dollars to the auto industry with no real strings attached.  On the other hand, we could have walked away and allowed two major auto companies to go out of business – which could have wiped out one million American jobs.

I refused to let that happen.  So we came up with a third way.  We said to the auto companies – if you’re willing to make the hard decisions necessary to adapt and compete in the 21st century, we’ll make a one-time investment in your future.

Of course, if some folks had their way, none of this would be happening at all.  This plant might not exist.  There were leaders of the “just say no” crowd in Washington who argued that standing by the auto industry would guarantee failure.  One called it “the worst investment you could possibly make.”  They said we should just walk away and let these jobs go.

Today, the men and women in this plant are proving these cynics wrong.  Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, our auto industry has added 55,000 jobs – the strongest period of job growth in more than ten years.  For the first time since 2004, all three American automakers are operating at a profit.  Sales have begun to rebound.  And plants like this that wouldn’t have existed if all of us didn’t act are now operating maximum capacity.

What’s more, thanks to our investments, a lot of these auto companies are reinventing themselves to meet the demands of a new age.  At this plant, they’re hard at work building the high-quality, fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow – cars like the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt that can run 40 miles before taking a sip of gasoline.  Throughout Michigan, an advanced battery industry is taking root that will power clean electric cars – an industry that produced only 2 percent of the world’s advanced batteries last year, but will now be able to produce as much as 40 percent in a little over five years.  That’s real progress.

There’s no doubt that we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do before folks here and across the country can feel whole again.  But what’s important is that we’re finally beginning to see some of the tough decisions we made pay off.  And if we had listened to the cynics and the naysayers – if we had simply done what the politics of the moment required – none of this progress would have happened.

Still, even as these icons of American industry are being reborn, we also need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with America’s small businessmen and women, as well -- particularly since they’re the ones who create most of the new jobs in this country.

As we work to rebuild our economy, I can’t imagine anything more common-sense than giving additional tax breaks and badly-needed lending assistance to America’s small business owners so they can grow and hire.  That’s what we’re trying to do with the Small Business Jobs Act – a bill that has been praised as being good for small businesses by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business.  It’s a bill that includes provision after provision authored by both Democrats and Republicans.  But yesterday, the Republican leaders in the Senate once again used parliamentary procedures to block it. Understand, a majority of Senators support the plan. It’s just that the Republican leaders in the Senate won’t even allow it to come up for a vote.

That isn’t right. And I’m calling on the Republican leaders in the Senate to stop holding America’s small businesses hostage to politics, and allow an up-or-down vote on this small business jobs bill.

At a time when America is just starting to move forward again, we can’t afford the do-nothing policies and partisan maneuvering that will only take us backward.  I won’t stand here and pretend everything’s wonderful.  I know that times are tough.  But what I also know is that we’ve made it through tough times before.  And we’ll make it through again.  The men and women hard at work in this plant make me absolutely confident of that.

So to all the naysayers out there, I say this:  Don’t ever bet against the American people.  Because we don’t take the easy way out.  That’s not how we deal with challenge.  That’s not how we build this country into the greatest economic power the world has ever known.  We did it by summoning the courage to persevere, and adapt, and push this country forward, inch by inch.  That’s the spirit I see in this plant today, and as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I will keep fighting alongside you until we reach a better day. Thanks.    ####

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Photos: The Capitol. Credit: Getty Images. File photo of Sen. Mike Johanns. Credit: Associated Press. President Obama in Detroit on Friday.  Credit: Associated Press.