Senator Snowe’s Reaction to President Obama’s Address to Congress 

After attending Thursday night’s joint session of Congress requested by President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe issued the following statement. Senator Snowe said: “Tonight, the President opened the conversation our nation requires to address the most pressing crisis facing American families, and that is how to create jobs in our economy. While the President’s engagement on this urgent matter is long overdue, finally Congress and the Administration can begin the process of working through specific proposals, reconciling the differences, and doing what is necessary to rejuvenate our nation’s economic environment so we can get the more than 14 million unemployed Americans back to work. “For the past two years, I have urged this Congress and the Administration to put a laser-like focus on job creation.  As the President discussed tonight, extending the payroll tax cut, providing incentives for employers to hire military veterans, and using existing Highway Trust funds for expedited road and bridge projects are all good proposals that will help foster job creation. However, I will strongly oppose any effort to pay for the President’s initiatives by raising taxes on the job-creating small business owners that serve as the backbone of our economy. Raising taxes in this environment will quash any hope of beginning the kind of jobs recovery our economy so desperately needs. Instead, the key to emerging from this unemployment crisis is for Republicans and Democrats to work together to create an environment conducive to unleashing private sector investment, a willingness to take risks and hire new workers. “At the root of this crisis is the stark lack of a climate conducive to job creation. In Maine, I have convened business roundtables, met with small business owners, held Main Street tours and talked with people from all walks of life. Without exception, potential job creators are yearning for predictability, consistency and permanence in the policies emanating from government. Too many onerous regulations, too few incentives, and a tax code too complex are all suppressing the entrepreneurial spirit intrinsic to our nation.  “The boldest jobs agenda that will undoubtedly help our economy recover will consist of creating a climate ripe for productivity, higher employment, and individual prosperity. Washington must embark on meaningful regulatory reform. Small businesses, simply by the nature of their size, currently face an annual regulatory cost of $10,585 per employee and shoulder a regulatory compliance cost more than 30 percent higher than larger firms. Leveling that field for small business could save an average $32,000 for a 10-person firm which is enough to hire one additional person. Across our economy, that would open opportunities for millions of people. “Another national stumbling block for our economy is the U.S. tax code. Its complexity and anti-competitive nature distorts business decisions, creates uncertainty among potential employers, and impedes job creation and economic growth. Over the past two years, the Senate Finance Committee has held a great number of hearings dealing specifically with tax reform, so we have more than enough guidance on how this can be undertaken. Moving forward expeditiously on comprehensive tax reform that is fair, simplified, pro-growth, and encourages savings and investment will send a solid signal to our nation that we are open for business. “And the failure of our government to enforce current trade law and call China to account for its currency manipulation undercuts true competition and undermines American businesses. The President’s calls for new trade agreements must be preceded by strict enforcement of existing trade agreements, otherwise we face a recipe for disaster and higher unemployment in the United States. The President said we must make sure our trading partners play by the rules and that is something I firmly advocate – including urging the Commerce Department to investigate China for currency manipulation. Recent reports indicate enforcing fair trade provisions when it comes to some of these violations would support the creation of more than two million U.S. jobs and reduce the deficit by more than $70 billion a year. “We face historic challenges, but without question we are still the greatest nation on Earth and will succeed in overcoming this crisis if we work together in both the short-term and lay a solid foundation for our future. Like the President and my colleagues, I share a positive vision rife with ideas, initiatives and investments to position our nation to lead the world. Greater emphasis must be placed on educating our young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We must establish and pursue specific energy policies that meet the demands of today and shift us toward what is clean and efficient for tomorrow. Besides rebuilding critical road and bridge infrastructure, our nation must continue investing in the broadband backbone vital to harnessing the power of the information age. True leadership requires the vision to address challenges before they become they crises, and it is long past time Congress and the President get to work and embark on a substantial agenda that will result in job creation.”