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What About Jobs?

Innovation was missing from the first presidential debate.  So was utilizing the power of technology as a foundation for a stronger economy.  And, other than a few of areas of agreement on taxes and education, the debate was devoid of new ideas and bold approaches to create jobs and get America moving again.  

Both candidates repeated the well-rehearsed points that we consistently hear on the campaign trail.  But neither put forward the kind of ideas that we need to hear about, the kind of ideas that will jumpstart the slow-moving U.S. economy.

Let’s look at what we heard at the debate on the areas where TechElect has focused throughout the campaign:



On Their Jobs Plan:

President Obama

Governor Romney

I think we’ve got to invest in education and training.  I think it’s important for us to develop new sources of energy here in America, that we change our tax code to make sure that we’re helping small businesses and companies that are investing here in the United States, that we take some of the money that we’re saving as we wind down two wars to rebuild America and that we reduce our deficit in a balanced way that allows us to make these critical investments.

My plan has five basic parts.  One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent.  That creates about 4 million jobs.  Number two, open up more trade, particularly in Latin America, crack down on China, if and when they cheat.  Number three, make sure our people have the skills they need to succeed and the best schools in the world.  We’re a far way from that now.  Number four, get us to a balanced budget.  Number five, champion small business.  It’s small business that creates the jobs in America.  And over the last four years, small-business people have decided that America may not be the place to open a new business, because new business startups are down to a 30-year low.  I know what it takes to get small business growing again, to hire people.


On Workforce Development:

President Obama

Governor Romney

I want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition low for our young people.

. . .

I’ve also said is let’s hire another 100,000 math and science teachers to make sure we maintain our technological lead and our people are skilled and able to succeed.  And hard-pressed states right now can’t all do that.  In fact we’ve seen layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers over the last several years, and Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers.  I do, because I think that that is the kind of investment where the federal government can help.  It can’t do it all, but it can make a difference. And as a consequence we’ll have a better trained workforce and that will create jobs because companies want to locate in places where we’ve got a skilled workforce.

Education is key, particularly the future of our economy.  But our training programs right now, we’ve got 47 of them, housed in the federal government, reporting to eight different agencies.  Overhead is overwhelming.  We’ve got to get those dollars back to the states and go to the workers so they can create their own pathways to get in the training they need for jobs that will really help them.

. . .

The right answer for government is say, How do we make the private sector become more efficient and more effective?  How do we get schools to be more competitive?  Let’s grade them. I propose we grade our schools so parents know which schools are succeeding and failing, so they can take their child to a -- to a school that he’s being more successful.


I don’t want to cut our commitment to education. I wanted to make it more effective and efficient.  And by the way, I’ve had that experience. I don’t just talk about it.  I’ve been there.  Massachusetts schools are ranked number one in the nation.  This is not because I didn’t have commitment to education.  It’s because I care about education for all of our kids.


On Tax Reform:

President Obama

Governor Romney

When it comes to our tax code, Governor Romney and I both agree that our corporate tax rate is too high, so I want to lower it, particularly for manufacturing, taking it down to 25 percent. But I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. I want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States.

. . .

When it comes to corporate taxes, Governor Romney has said he wants to, in a revenue neutral way, close loopholes, deductions -- he hasn’t identified which ones they are -- but that thereby bring down the corporate rate.

Well, I want to do the same thing, but I’ve actually identified how we can do that.  And part of the way to do it is to not give tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.

Right now, you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas.  I think most Americans would say that doesn’t make sense.  And all that raises revenue.

We agree, we ought to bring the tax rates down. And I do, both for corporations and for individuals. But in order for us not to lose revenue, have the government run out of money, I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions, so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth.

I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce the -- the revenues going to the government.  My number-one principle is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit.  I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.

. . .

The Department of Energy has said the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year.  And it’s actually an accounting treatment, as you know, that’s been in place for a hundred years.  And in one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world.  Now, I like green energy as well, but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives. And you say Exxon and Mobil. Actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth.

But, you know, if we get that [corporate] tax rate from 35 percent down to 25 percent, why that $2.8 billion is on the table.  Of course it’s on the table.  That’s probably not going to survive you get that rate down to 25 percent.

The second topic, which is you said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas.  Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years.  I have no idea what you’re talking about.  I maybe need to get a new accountant.  But the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case.  What we do have right now is a setting where I’d like to bring money from overseas back to this country.


On Trade:

President Obama

Governor Romney

I will take ideas from anybody, Democrat or Republican, as long as they’re advancing the cause of making middle-class families stronger and giving ladders of opportunity to the middle class. That’s how we cut taxes for middle- class families and small businesses.  That’s how we cut a trillion dollars of spending that wasn’t advancing that cause.  That’s how we signed three trade deals into law that are helping us to double our exports and sell more American products around the world.

My plan has five basic parts.  One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent.  That creates about 4 million jobs.  Number two, open up more trade, particularly in Latin America, crack down on China, if and when they cheat.  (Editor’s note:  this is the same section referenced in the jobs responses.)


On Energy:

President Obama

Governor Romney

Governor Romney and I, we both agree that we’ve got to boost American energy production, and oil and natural gas production are higher than they’ve been in years. But I also believe that we’ve got to look at the energy sources of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments.

Energy is critical, and the president pointed out correctly that production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up.  But not due to his policies.  In spite of his policies.

Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land.  On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half.  If I’m president, I’ll double them, and also get the -- the oil from offshore and Alaska.  And I’ll bring that pipeline in from Canada.

And, by the way, I like coal.  I’m going to make sure we can continue to burn clean coal.  People in the coal industry feel like it’s getting crushed by your policies.  I want to get America and North America energy independent so we can create those jobs.


Public Policy Tags: Tax Policy
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