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Paul Ryan Visits New Balance; Says Tax Reform Coming This Year

Posted by Rick Lord on Jul 28, 2017 8:16:29 AM

For a man who carries the weight of the nation’s economy, budget and health-care systems on his back, US House Speaker Paul Ryan projects the approachable air of a neighbor who shows up at your door to lend you his hedge clippers.

Paul Ryan.jpgI joined other business leaders last Thursday afternoon meeting with Speaker Ryan during an event hosted by New Balance in Lawrence. Unfailingly gracious and remarkably relaxed, the speaker toured the only major foot-ware company that manufactures product in the United States to talk about the potential of tax reform to accelerate economic growth.

The rancorous Washington political debate followed the speaker to Massachusetts as labor unions and other protesters accused Ryan of being a “traitor” and of endangering people’s health with his political agenda. But inside the plant, humming with opportunity and economic activity, people of differing political stripes, Republicans and Democrats alike, left behind the public noise and engaged in a thoughtful discussion about how to encourage companies like New Balance to put people to work.

In other words, it was an event that more closely approximated the bipartisan, collaborative tenor of Massachusetts politics than anything that usually happens on the banks of the Potomac. Not everyone agreed on what tax reform should look like (AIM members are themselves far from unanimous about their approach to taxes) but everyone agreed that the system needs an overhaul.

The final contours of the Republican tax proposal are still being hammered out among the House, Senate and White House negotiators. But most observers expect the plan to reduce taxes on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to somewhere between 20 and 25 percent, consolidate tax brackets, reduce deductions and simplify the tax-filing process.

Ryan said that Republicans remain far more united on tax reform than on repealing health-care reform.

“We’re going to get this done in 2017,” he told reporters.

“Obviously, we’ve seen in the Senate there are a difference of opinions on how to do health care reform. We are so much more unified on tax reform, on what it looks like, and how to do it, and the need to do it.”

New Balance, a longtime AIM member, employs more than 1,700 Massachusetts residents who use intelligence, lean manufacturing and efficiency to make running shoes in a state where manufacturing  is always a challenge. The company also developed the $500 million Boston Landing project in Brighton, a 1.45 million-square-foot campus that includes a new company headquarters, state-of-the-art athletic complex, hotel, restaurants, retail space and parking.

My comments to Speaker Ryan noted that New Balance and other manufacturing companies struggle to grow and provide jobs because the cost of doing business remains higher in the United States than in many countries abroad. Those costs are particularly onerous here in Massachusetts, where employers pay more for energy, health care and other necessities than anywhere else in the country.

I told the speaker that AIM is working with Governor Charlie Baker and the Legislature to address the health-care and energy cost issues, but that both are complex, structural problems that demand long-term solutions. Federal tax reform, on the other hand, offers a unique opportunity to improve the business climate in a relatively rapid time frame.

It will also be important to help small businesses during the tax-reform process. Both President Trump and the US House appear ready to lower taxes on subchapter S corporations and other pass-through entities, just as those companies face the prospect of seeing their state tax burden increased under an ill-conceived “millionaires tax” on next year’s ballot.

We all understand the potential challenges of tax reductions on a federal deficit that reached $523.1 billion during the first nine months of the current budget year. We all understand the need to debate spending priorities, especially in a state like Massachusetts where economically important industries such as health care, defense and higher education depend upon federal funding.

But the fact remains that employers like New Balance pay federal taxes that are almost a third higher than competitors in other countries.

“Today, places like this, this is more the exception than the rule,” Speaker Ryan told the media at New Balance.

“That’s our problem. Companies are not flocking to the United States, companies are fleeing this country and taking their good jobs with them. They’re not storing up their profits and their capital here, they’re keeping them offshore.”

Topics: U.S. House of Representatives, Taxes

U.S. House Panel Approves Repeal of Medical Device Tax

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jun 1, 2012 1:07:00 PM

The House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation Thursday that would repeal a medical-device tax that analysts estimate could cost 2,600 jobs in Massachusetts.

Medical Device TaxThe party-line committee vote advanced a measure to repeal the federal health care reform law’s 2.3 percent excise tax on the gross sales of medical devices. H.R. 436, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2011, is expected to be taken up by the House as early as next week.

AIM and other business groups opposed the excise tax during consideration of the heath-care bill in 2010 and have supported ongoing efforts to roll back the tax before it takes effect in 2013.

All 11 Democrats on the committee, including U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal of Springfield, opposed the repeal.

The 2.3 percent levy would apply to the sale of everything from cardiac defibrillators to artificial joints to MRI scanners. The device tax is supposed to raise $28.5 billion from 2013 to 2022, and is especially harmful because it applies to gross sales, not profits. As a result, companies at make-or-break margins could be taxed out of existence, especially in an intensely competitive industry where four of five businesses are start-ups or mid size.  

Meanwhile, Europe, Israel and Asia are working aggressively to overtake the America lead in life sciences, in such area as tissue engineering, nanotechnology, and gene –based diagnostics. The medical device industry employs approximately 26,000 people in Massachusetts.

Topics: Issues, U.S. House of Representatives, Taxes

House OKs Bill to Keep Government Out of Business Location Decisions

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Sep 15, 2011 3:52:00 PM

The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a bill supported by AIM that would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from dictating where a private business can and cannot locate jobs in the United States.

Protecting Jobs from Government InterventionThe Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act (HR 2587) passed the Republican-controlled House by a margin of 238 to 186. No member of the Massachusetts House delegation voted in favor the measure, which now faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Passage of the bill comes four months after the NLRB filed a complaint against The Boeing Company for creating work in South Carolina and demanded that the work be transferred to Puget Sound, Washington. If successful, the NLRB’s action may destroy an estimated 1,000 South Carolina jobs and have a chilling effect on job creators across the country.

AIM urged Congress to approve the Protecting Jobs Act to blunt the “all-out attack on business” being mounted by the NLRB and the U.S. Department of Labor. That offensive includes measures to limit the time employers have to respond to union organizing elections, a “gag rule” that would require employers to disclose when they use labor consultants, and reversing decades of established law by permitting micro-unions.

“No government board should have the authority to tell a private employer where it can run a business” said Minnesota Republican Representative John Kline, chair of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

AIM President Richard C. Lord praised the House for passing the bill and urged the Senate to follow suit. He called the measure a no-cost bill that will begin to restore job creators’ confidence, stimulate hiring and getting our economy headed in the right direction.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, U.S. House of Representatives, National Labor Relations Board

Can Government Tell an Employer Where to Locate?

Posted by Mike Rudman on Jul 21, 2011 1:41:00 PM

Should the government have the authority to tell a private employer where to operate its business?

National Labor Relations BoardThe National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) apparently thinks so, and that’s why Associated Industries of Massachusetts will next week express the support of Bay State employers for the new Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act (HR 2587). The measure, introduced this morning by House Republicans, would prohibit the NLRB from dictating where a private business can and cannot locate jobs in the United States.

Introduction of the bill comes three months after the NLRB filed a complaint against The Boeing Company for creating work in South Carolina and demanded that the work be transferred to Puget Sound, Washington. If successful, the NLRB’s action may destroy an estimated 1,000 South Carolina jobs and have a chilling effect on job creators across the country.

AIM will join business organizations from throughout the country in signing a letter urging Congress to approve the Protecting Jobs Act to blunt the “all-out attack on business” being mounted by the NLRB and the U.S. Department of Labor. That offensive includes measures to limit the time employers have to respond to union organizing elections, a “gag rule” that would require employers to disclose when they use labor consultants and a pending case that would reverse decades of established law by permitting micro-unions.

“No government board should have the authority to tell a private employer where it can run a business” said Minnesota Republican Representative John Kline, chair of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“Yet, as the Boeing dispute has made disturbingly clear, the National Labor Relations Board is empowered to override the business decisions of American employers. It would be irresponsible for Congress to stand by and watch as this threat to job creation undermines the strength of our economy.”

The NLRB has more than a dozen remedies at its disposal under current law to hold employers accountable for unlawful labor practices, including the authority to order a private company to relocate or transfer existing or planned employment. The new legislation amends the National Labor Relations Act to prohibit the NLRB from ordering any employer to relocate, shut down, or transfer employment under any circumstance. The limitation on the NLRB’s authority will apply to all cases that have not reached final adjudication before the board.

AIM and other employer groups are urging the House of Representatives to vote on the Protecting Jobs Bill before the August recess.

The federal complaint against Boeing comes as unions frustrated by Congress’ decision not to pass the Employee Free Choice Act or the Paycheck Fairness Act turn increasingly to the NLRB and other regulatory agencies to reverse what they view as a hostile atmosphere for organizing new members. Labor has suffered years of membership declines in the private sector, where just 7.2 percent of employees belong to a union.

 

Topics: Employment Law, U.S. House of Representatives, National Labor Relations Board

U.S. House Passes Version of 1099 Repeal

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Mar 3, 2011 4:49:00 PM

The United States House of Representatives voted 314-112 today to repeal a provision of the health reform law that would have required businesses to file 1099 tax forms for every vendor that sold them more than $600 worth of goods and services.

Seventy six House Democrats joined a unanimous group of Republicans in supporting H.R. 4, which would offset lost revenue from the repeal by increasing the amount of health insurance subsidies that could be recaptured in cases where a family's income exceed certain thresholds.

Freshman Congressman William Keating was the only member of the Massachusetts delegation to vote on favor of the bill.

The Senate approved a separate version of the 1099 repeal on February 2. House and Senate will now attempt to reconcile the different revenue offset plans contained in the two versions. President Obama has indicated that he supports a 1099 repeal, but has problems with the House bill.

The 1099 mandate, due to take effect in 2013, would require more than 30 million U.S. companies that currently only have to tell the IRS the value of services they purchase from vendors to also report the value of goods and merchandise they purchase. Lawmakers added the 1099 reporting footnote to the federal health reform bill in an effort to fund a portion of the massive overhaul.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts believes the provision would saddle employers with significant administrative and accounting expense at a time when many are already struggling with the soft economy.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Health Care Reform, AIM, U.S. Congress, U.S. House of Representatives

Both Massachusetts Senators, Two House Members, Back Tax Compromise

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Dec 17, 2010 1:50:00 PM

Both U.S. Senators from Massachusetts and two members of the Bay State’s House delegation this week supported a compromise $801 billion tax package that will help employers by extending the federal research and development tax credit and a provision that would allow businesses to write off their investments in equipment.

Tax BillSenators John Kerry and Scott Brown were joined by Representatives William Delahunt and Niki Tsongas in voting for the measure, which will extend for two years the Bush-era tax reductions and add 13 months of unemployment benefits. The remaining members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation – Representatives Michael Capuano, Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch, Edward Markey, James McGovern, Richard Neal, John Olver and John Tierney – were opposed.

President Barack Obama, who developed the compromise package with Congressional Republicans, is expected to sign the bill as early as today.

Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, noted that extension of the Bush tax cuts will provide additional capital to the many Massachusetts business owners who operate as subchapter-S corporations and pay the personal income tax rate.

“The president and Congress deserve tremendous credit for passing legislation that will stimulate job growth and advance the economic recovery here in Massachusetts,” Lord said.

The federal research and development tax credit is a complex incentive that can amount to 20 percent for companies that existed during the 1980s and ratchet down to 7 percent for companies founded later.  The credit has been a sort of orphan among economic stimulus measures – it has never been made permanent, has lapsed four times and been renewed more than a dozen times.

Both the R&D credit and the expensing provisions benefit key sectors of the Massachusetts economy. Durable goods make up almost $24 billion of the $34 billion in gross domestic product generated by Massachusetts manufacturers, while a recent study by AIM and the University of Massachusetts underscored the importance of research and innovation in allowing Bay State defense contractors to triple the value of their business in the past 15 years.

Topics: Senator John Kerry, U.S. Senate, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM, U.S. Congress, U.S. House of Representatives, Taxes, Senator Scott Brown

Shareholder Protection Act Protects Unions, Silences Employers

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Aug 11, 2010 10:21:00 AM

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee approved a bill on August 5 that will restrict the ability of employers to participate in the political process while placing no such restrictions on large labor unions.

Shareholder Protection ActCommittee members approved H.R. 4790 – the Shareholder Protection Act - by a vote of 35 to 28. Supporters introduced the legislation in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that tossed out the decades-old ban on direct corporate and union campaign spending. An earlier labor-backed attempt to re-impose the ban on corporate speech through a measure called the Disclose Act failed in the Senate after leaders there were unable to break a filibuster.

The House bill would require shareholders of corporations to vote on the total political expenditures the corporation would make in the upcoming fiscal year. All corporations would have to include in their bylaws language requiring a majority vote of approval of political expenditures in excess of $50,000.

Moreover, there is also some concern that the bill includes under the definition of political expenditures “dues or other payments to trade associations.” That provision could make dues to associations that engage in political activity subject to shareholder votes. 

The House bill targets corporate political speech only and does not apply to unions, which would remain free to spend money on political advertising without seeking approval from dues-paying members. 

Representative Michael Capuano (D-MA) is sponsor of the bill. It is co-sponsored by several Massachusetts lawmakers, including Representatives Barney Frank, James McGovern and John Olver.

The Shareholder Protection Act isn’t really designed to protect shareholder. Corporate managers are already legally required to act in the shareholders’ best interest. By singling out political speech – and only political speech – for more burdensome treatment, the proposed law attempts to do indirectly what the U.S. Supreme Court said Congress may not do directly: abridge corporations’ political speech rights. The measure clearly violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The bill could be considered by the full House in September before moving to the Senate, where its prospects remain unclear.

Why not contact Representative Capuano or your U.S. Representative to oppose attempts to give unions a political voice while silencing employers?

Topics: Shareholder Protection Act, Employers, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM, U.S. House of Representatives

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