Approximately 50 members of the Indiana Chamber visited with Indiana’s congressional delegation during the Chamber’s annual D.C. Fly-in event September 14-15. The group, accompanied by Chamber President Kevin Brinegar and other staff, arrived in a city where partisan tensions were ever present and more than a few congressmen were absent, locked in tight re-election fights back in the Hoosier state.
The Chamber delegation visited with both U.S. Sens. Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh, engaging with the latter in an informal Q&A session in the U.S. Capitol’s Visitors Center. Senator Bayh pronounced that it was likely the last time he would be meeting with us as a U.S. senator and further stated that predictions of an active agenda for a post-election “lame duck” session of Congress were overblown. Senator Bayh told the group that there was very little momentum for a broad agenda beyond a fiscal continuing resolution to keep the federal government functioning and perhaps some action on extending the ’01 and ’03 or so-called Bush tax cuts.
Senator Lugar addressed the group during dinner on September 14, joined by Reps. Pete Visclosky, Dan Burton, Steve Buyer (who is retiring) and Mike Pence. The group echoed Sen. Bayh’s assessment about the congressional agenda through year’s end, and tax legislation, the federal budget and the upcoming election were foremost on their minds.
The Chamber participants pressed the delegation on a variety of issues, including pending appropriations bills, reauthorization of the federal surface transportation act and “card check” legislation. Special emphasis was given to extending the tax cuts, as expiration of this tax relief at year’s end would negatively affect the frail national economy and Hoosier small businesses.
On January 1, 2011, Americans will face the biggest tax hike in history. If Congress fails to act, marginal tax rates will increase for every taxpayer, the capital gains rate climbs 33%, and dividend rates jump by as much as 164%. American small businesses, our economic jobs engine, will face marginal tax rates as high as 39.6%. Compounded with the loss of certain itemized deductions and personal exemptions, these small businesses face rates as high as 41.6%. And this increase hits successful small businesses, our job creators, particularly hard: Approximately half of the business income reported on tax returns in 2011 will be subjected to the top two marginal rates.
The Indiana Chamber’s message to the delegation was that outcome is unacceptable and Congress must act before year’s end, but no one in D.C. seems to know when, or if, that debate might occur. In a time of economic uncertainty, raising taxes on businesses and investors would hinder Americans from building individual savings and further investing in the economy.
Extending existing tax rates would, in one bold stroke, boost investor, business and consumer confidence by taking the uncertainty of tax policy off the table. It would leave hard earned income in the hands of the individuals and businesses that earned it and allow them to spur investment, boost consumption, promote economic growth and create jobs.
Now is not the time to increase taxes on all taxpayers, but rather to work together to keep the economy on the road to recovery.