Buck v. Bennet On Business Issues

The Denver Business Journal has a nice article reporting the responses of Colorado’s two Senate candidates, Ken Buck (R) and Michael Bennet (D), to five questions regarding business-related issues.  Their complete responses are here and worth reading. 

Below is a quick summary, along with some commentary.  To be clear, the summary is not intended to reflect the actual words used by the candidates unless it has quotation marks.  I have otherwise taken the liberty of distilling the answers or reading between the lines.  If you want the actual answers, please click through the link to the Denver Business Journal.

“What is the most important thing that you can do as a U.S. senator to help businesses jump-start this economy again?”

Buck:

(1) Reduce the corporate tax rate.  “Rather than growing government and increasing the deficit, you give corporations the ability to expand their workforce by reducing the burden on corporations.”  (2) Pursue a “sound energy policy that isn’t increasing costs on business,” by drilling for oil and natural gas, encouraging nuclear energy in this country, and by encouraging clean-coal technology and developing coal resources.

Bennet:

(1) “[C]ommit to the domestic production of energy that would create jobs here in the United States — and then to do it in a way that relies on cleaner technology and innovation that every day.”  (2) Education.  “[M]ake a commitment to early-childhood education for kids zero to 5,” provide “greater access to higher education and make sure that students that are prepared to go onto college do go onto college,” and do more to attract and retain teachers.

Reducing corporate tax rates makes a lot of sense.  The United States taxes corporations at rates that are currently second only to Japan among the major developed economies.  I also prefer the pursuit of an “all of the above” energy policy instead of directing billions more dollars into “clean energy technology.”  Nuclear power, specifically, has vast untapped potential as an energy source.  Solar, wind,  and other forms of energy are certainly worth exploring, but the government should not be distorting the energy market.

As to education, it looks like Bennet just wants to shovel more money at schools, colleges, and teachers unions.   We certainly do not need government trying to educate kids zero to 5.  Instead of expanding into new territory, we should be demanding competency and superior results within the framework of K-12 education that we already have.

Small business has been faced with an inability to get loans or credit from lending institutions. What steps, if any, need to be taken to change that?”

Bennet:

Pass his bill that “includes a small-business lending fund, expanded SBA loans and other targeted tax credits” for small businesses.

Buck:

Have Congress lean on the executive branch to ensure that banking regulators are not “inhibiting credit . . . because they have valued assets so low that people can’t borrow against equity that they used to be able to borrow against.”

I like the restraint shown by Buck’s answer.  The government does not need to take affirmative action; it just needs to get out of the way.  Bennet, in contrast, appears to view small business lending as something the government should be directly involved in managing.  Take a look at Fanny Mae and Freddie Mack to see where too much government intervention in lending can take us.

Where do you stand on the idea of cap-and-trade legislation”?

Buck:

“I’m opposed to cap and trade. I don’t think it will achieve its goal of eliminating pollution. I think it will drive up costs, and I think it will have a serious economic impact in this country.  It will also create a huge new government bureaucracy.”

Bennet:

In favor of it, but don’t worry, because it’s not going to happen any time soon.  Meanwhile, let’s impose a national renewable energy standard of 25 percent by 2025 and provide permanent tax incentives to spur renewable growth, along with federal investment in renewables, an updated electrical grid, and incentives for alternative fuel vehicles.

Again, Buck wants to keep the government out of the business of using taxation to push the economy in one direction or the other.  Bennet, in contrast, wants to try to micro-manage the energy economy through government-imposed carrots and sticks.

Business and labor have expressed differing desires in regard to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). What do you want to see happen with this legislation?”

Bennet:

In favor of it, but afraid to say so.  Don’t worry your pretty little head about it anyway, because “[t]here currently is no EFCA bill before the Senate.” 

Meanwhile, let’s all have a moment of peace and understanding and “see if we can create a course that’s more positive for both sides and that allows our economy to grow, rectifies the past failures to enforce the National Labor Relations Act, protects workers from intimidation and protects the ability of workers to bargain collectively” without fretting over any specific legislation.

Buck:

“I think that taking away a worker’s right to vote in private or anonymously in a sense is wrong. And I think having the government come in and arbitrate a dispute and force conditions on either employers or workers is wrong.”  In addition, let’s work state-to state to adopt right-to-work laws.

Bennet really likes to duck questions about the unpopular radical legislation that he and his party favor and he would almost certainly vote for.  Energy tax (a/k/a cap and trade)?  Don’t worry, “there’s [not] a lot of likelihood that that’s going to pass this year.”  Card check? Don’t worry, there’s no bill currently before the Senate.  With Buck, on the other hand, there is no dodging or ambiguity — he’s against them.

Now that we’ve had several months to step back and look at the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ObamaCare], what changes, if any, do you think need to be made?”

Buck:

Repeal it if you can; defund portions of it if you can’t.  Pursue free-market strategies to encourage competition, insurance portability, healthcare savings accounts, and the availability of high deductible catastrophic insurance policies.  Encourage states to pursue tort reform.

Bennet:

Bring back the “public option” and introduce an amendment that would require Congress to make changes to the health care law if the legislation fails to meet its cost-saving projections.

I am all in favor of repealing it and making Obama veto any such legislation.  ObamaCare is a disaster, and it will inevitably cause the cost of healthcare to explode.  I would prefer to see Buck advocate for measures that would de-link health insurance from employment, such as by neutralizing the tax impacts of employer-provided and self-provided insurance, encouraging true insurance mobility.

Bennet’s public option would further exacerbate problems rather than correct them, and would likely lead to government take-over of the remainder of the health care system (an effect admitted by some on the left as a half-measure intended to lead to full government control).  Moreover, any legislation that purports to require Congress to take action in the future is a sham, since a current Congress cannot bind a future one, and Bennet knows it.  

Overall, there is a striking contrast between the two candidates.  For Bennet, all problems come with a government solution of some kind, even if we don’t quite know what it should be.  Moreover, Bennet is perfectly willing to give answers intended to hide his true beliefs on important legislation.

Buck, in contrast, provided very forthright and unequivocal answers.  Moreover, his instincts regarding government restraint are admirable.  He prefers tort reform, but thinks it should be left to the states.  He prefers right to work legislation, but thinks it should be left to the states.  He would like to free up credit, but thinks legislation is irrelevantto the issue and merely wants to lean on the executive branch to ensure that banking regulators are not getting in the way.  These are the kinds of small government instincts we need to turn the current hostile business environment around.

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Published in: on September 7, 2010 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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