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Wendy N. Powell Headshot

Washington: Extend the Tax Cuts to Create a Business-Friendly Environment

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Our economy depends on It. Unemployment is still 9.8% and rising with no end near. Does anyone really think the unemployment rate is going to decline without aggressive relief to business?

This 11th hour tax vote is inexcusable. Politicians have known about the pending expiration of these tax cuts for many years. They have recently abandoned their responsibilities to perform their "more important job" of political campaigning. We didn't elect members of Congress to campaign; we elected them to support our country.

Washington needs to listen to the American public. According to a December poll by, 66 percent of Americans support both extending the tax cuts for two years and extending unemployment benefits for another year.

President Obama needs to create a fresh, new version of the knights of the round table with the nobility of the business world. Of course, he needs to bring on the critical thinkers who understand a sense of urgency that many congressional leaders fail to realize. Bill Clinton helps with the political implications, but we need the business experts. Bring them together as a new think tank to impart their business knowledge on the decision makers in Washington. It should be a requirement of our governmental leaders to have emphatic, grounded experience in American business to make decisions on behalf of their constituents.

It makes me wonder what set of competencies our government officials have to fix our serious economic problems, particularly job loss. I know one thing, they either don't have what it takes or at least they aren't using business sense. They are adding "incentives" to this critical initiative, really? This will negatively impact the lives of not only business, but the American public.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has proposed a new tax plan that includes pork of sorts that includes relief for the rum industry, the film industry, and NASCAR. It is downright insulting to throw these types of enticements into this critical mix. This is not like going to the union bargaining table to reach an agreement by trading last minute proposals. This may be the most important vote of our contemporary time. If we don't get the problem with joblessness under control, we will likely dive into a new economic abyss that will last for decades.

Even the extension of the unemployment benefits, while is arguably critical, doesn't have conditions in order for them to receive additional money. We need controls such as enhanced reporting of job searches and public service to work for the additional pay. The unemployed cannot sit and wait for their career knight in shining armor to knock on their doors. This sounds remarkably familiar; it is similar to the TARP money handed out without conditions and control.

You can't, can't ignore the obvious fact that our government hasn't been kind, nor attentive to the needs of the job creators. It is mid December and we still don't know what we can count on for our 2011 budgets. October came and went and Congress went on a recess without consideration of the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts. The mid-term election was more important than the jobs they were elected to do. Think about it -- October is a typical month for creating the final budget for the following year. And we expected to see job growth in the Fall after the "Summer of opportunity"? We did not give the tools to business to open up their budgets and fiscal hearts to potential employees. We did the opposite; we froze them. There is no surprise that businesses are in a frozen mode. They are trying to do more with less. As time goes by, they become more comfortable with their staffing levels and less likely to take risks or expand. Likewise, employees are doing more work with less opportunities, and in many cases less money.

Businesses are making money, you may say. Their balance sheets are looking up. This is true, but American business still does not know their tax liability, their obligations for health care, or energy for 2011, not to mention their taxes on their rum consumption. There is no surprise that they aren't hiring. They want to wait and see what tomorrow will bring. But think about it from the personal level of how you manage your household budget. If you are suddenly solvent, are you going to pack away money for the next freeze or are you going to spend it? The likely answer is the former. Like it or not, big business and small business alike hold the cards, and they will conserve until they can see that they can manage their taxes, borrowing power, and perhaps then their spending and risk taking.

We don't exist for political futures. I, for one, am sick of the political games. How about that filibuster that wastes valuable time and effort? Perhaps eating crow will be part of this voting process. We need the extension of the tax cuts now. The alternative is to wait until January and see if new sparks will fly.