Toomey's Take: Creating Jobs in Pennsylvania is a Priority
By Pat Toomey
Over the past week I have had the chance to travel across the commonwealth to meet with Pennsylvania small business owners and listen to their concerns about running their businesses and creating new jobs in the state.
From Erie to Bucks County to Harrisburg to West Chester, these hard-working entrepreneurs have shared their personal stories and challenges with me. The types of businesses are all different and the details of their stories are unique, but the resounding message is the same: The burdens of overzealous government mandates and regulations are making it difficult for companies to expand and hire new workers. In some cases, it is making it nearly impossible for people to keep their businesses going at all.
In Erie, I toured the Smith Provision Company's hot dog and sausage factory and learned about all the hard work that goes into producing the delicious hot dogs, sausages and award-winning hams Pennsylvanians love to eat. In Meadville, I toured the Tech Tool & Mold plant, a family business employing more than 100 Pennsylvanians and on the verge of expanding. In Bucks County, I met with doctors and administrators from St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, a major employer in southeast Pennsylvania. In Venango Country and Harrisburg, I had the opportunity to speak with small business owners at local jobs roundtable events where they voiced their concerns and thoughts. In Chester County, I spoke with a major medical device manufacturer about the burdens imposed on them by the new health care legislation.
Some of the most burdensome regulations have gotten a lot of attention. For example, the 2.3 percent medical device tax in the president's health care law will be applied to total sales--not profits. Many of our most promising medical device manufacturers are young, small businesses with great promise but, so far, little or no profits. Hitting them with a big new tax will threaten the viability of some of these companies and definitely result in fewer jobs throughout the industry. Today, these companies and their suppliers employ more than 100,000 people in Pennsylvania with the potential to grow significantly. Not only does this tax penalize those researching and developing potential life-saving technologies, it threatens existing and future high-paying manufacturing jobs. That is why I have co-sponsored two pieces of legislation to repeal this onerous tax.
In other cases, obscure regulations and bureaucratic red tape are hurting our small businesses. One company told me how the research and development tax credit intended to help businesses expense new equipment purchases is actually costing them time and money just to qualify through the Internal Revenue Service. A 100-year-old company in central Pennsylvania told me about new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that could force it to replace its boiler at a time when the company cannot afford it. A factory president told me that federal regulators can be very unresponsive in approving food product labels, throwing their entire production schedule off.
These are just a few examples of the types of challenges Pennsylvania businesses face on a daily basis. Often, federal bureaucrats don't understand and have no knowledge of what it takes to run a hot dog factory in Erie or a hospital in Bucks County. Their top-down mentality makes it impossible for them to anticipate the kind of unintended consequences their mandates and regulations impose on struggling businesses.
Over the past two years, Washington leaders told us that the best way to create jobs was to borrow and spend money at unprecedented levels. But now, we have record-breaking deficits and debt, and still a frail economic recovery at best. Clearly, we need to try a different approach.
As a former small business owner who ran several food establishments with my brothers in the Lehigh Valley and Lancaster, I know firsthand the amount of hard work, effort and risk that goes into starting one's own business and keeping it running. I have also seen how bad government policies can make it difficult, if not impossible, for these small businesses to thrive.
There are a lot of things the government can do to encourage risk taking, entrepreneurship and job creation, but the worst thing it can do is enact policies that actually discourage new jobs.
One of my top priorities is to make sure we have the right government policies to encourage job creation. Pennsylvania has some the hardest working, most innovative and most productive workers in the country. We are leaders in many industries from manufacturing to medical technology, to energy production, and I know that we can be at the forefront of a booming economic recovery if the government lets us.