Corporate Tax Reform Would Benefit Nation, Workers

Abstract View of Urban Scene and Skyscrapers

Lawmakers and candidates on all sides of the political spectrum acknowledge reforming America’s corporate tax rate is overdue. President Obama has even suggested reducing the rate from 35% to 28%. Writing for Reason, Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center sums up the necessity for this, concluding it’s an optimal way to benefit both businesses and the workforce:

Even such high-tax nations as France have lower rates. However, the real competition comes from Canada (26.1 percent), Denmark (25 percent), the United Kingdom (20 percent) and the many countries, such as Ireland (12.5 percent), with rates below 20 percent. Moreover, competition is intensifying. Last June, the U.K. announced that it would cut its rate from 20 percent to 18 percent in the next five years. It’s now saying that it will lower the rate even further, to 17 percent. These reductions are the final stage of drastic cuts implemented since 2007, when the country’s companies faced a 30 percent tax rate. That’s a second wave of reduction since the rate was as high as 54 percent in the 1980s.

Now contrast this with the United States. In the 1980s, policymakers responded to the pressure put on by many countries lowering their corporate rates by decreasing America’s rate from 49.7 percent to 33 percent. However, since then, the U.S. has fallen asleep on the switch (and even raised the rate by 1 percentage point in the 1990s) and is now widely out of sync with internal competition. In 2015, the average corporate rate for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development was 25 percent, down from 48 percent in the early 1980s.

As if that were not enough competition for American companies, the U.S. government burdens them with another layer by taxing them on a worldwide basis. In that system, income from American companies is subject to U.S. taxes whether it’s earned in Seattle, Paris or Singapore. By contrast, most wealthy countries don’t tax foreign business income; about half of OECD nations have “territorial” systems that tax firms only on domestic income. In other words, U.S. exporters face a much less competitive tax system than most of their biggest competitors…

Not everyone would like to reduce taxes on corporations, but everyone should. The data show that most of the corporate tax burden is actually shifted to workers, who end up shouldering the tax in the form of lower wages. With the U.K. taking further measures to reduce its burden on corporations, boosting its workers’ wages and inflicting yet another blow to U.S. competitiveness, Congress should do what’s right by reforming the corporate tax. It may be the one bipartisan issue out there. All we need is leadership.

If Image is Everything, U.S. in Trouble

19218071The Reputation Institute does studies on, guess what, reputations. In this case, its all about countries.

In many ways, countries are like companies; They have “brands” to protect, budgets to adhere to, and many “competitors” vying for their export business, international diplomacy status and tourism dollars — and, as in business, a country’s global reputation can be the pivotal touch point around which those other metrics revolve.

According to new research from the Reputation Institute, Canada has moved back into the leading slot for reputation, having passed Switzerland to regain the top spot in this year’s Country RepTrak, the world’s largest annual survey of country reputations, showing regional trends for North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Canada, the United States and Mexico all improved their reputations, according to the survey.

Since the survey began in 2010, Canada has ranked first all but two of those years and never lower than second place. At the top of the list are all of Scandinavia, with Norway in second place, immediately followed by Sweden and Switzerland.

Historically, the reputation of the United States has been poor, even though the country’s image has improved 20% compared to an average reputation. Elsewhere around the world, Latin America is improving its reputation overall, but Brazil is experiencing a decline in reputation. Northern European countries are in the top 10, and Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland have improved their reputations due to improvements in certain economic indicators. Japan has the best reputation in Asia and while Asian countries are improving their reputations, theirs are still weak overall. Russia’s reputation is declining due to the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea’s annexation.

The top 10 countries in the 2015 Country RepTrak are:

New Zealand

Federal Highway Funding Deadline Nears

36601064The current federal funding stream for highways runs its course July 31. The Senate is looking at a four-year option, while the House appears more in favor of extending it through this year and soon revisiting the matter.

Every member of Indiana’s delegation is keenly aware of the situation. While in D.C. this week, the Indiana Chamber continued to advocate for a long-term solution to financing the federal Highway Trust Fund. A patchwork of re-authorizations that are often only for a few months is no way to manage transportation assets, set national priorities or plan for future needs. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in his letter this week to state departments of transportation:

“Congress’s failure to pass a long-term bill is of great concern to all of us who are engaged in the work of building and maintaining our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Careening from self-inflicted crisis to self-inflicted crisis undermines our system. We need Congress to break the cycle of short-term extensions; we need a long-term bill with significant growth.”

Analyzing the Women-Owned Firms

Two businessmen and a businesswoman in a meeting

The fifth annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report offers some mixed news for Indiana. Among the key findings:

  • Indiana is ranked 45th in the growth of new firms over the past 18 years (37.7% compared to a national average of 73.7%)
  • Employment in Indiana’s women-owned companies (estimated at 165,200 in 2015) increased by 25.4% over that same time period; that doubled the 12% national average
  • Likewise, the sales for Indiana firms (estimated at $26.2 million in 2015) experienced 93% growth since 1997, ahead of the 78.7% national sales average

In a special post-recession breakdown, Indiana comes in at No. 13 with 151% growth compared to the pre-recession (2002-2007) period.

Data is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Waiting … and Waiting on a Highway Funding Fix

30449450Federal highway funding is running low. Nothing new there. The Indiana Chamber, and many others, have called for long-term solutions from Washington instead of short-term fixes that simply extend the uncertainty.

How are states reacting to the current dilemma. According to the Kiplinger Letter:

  • Arkansas, Georgia, Wyoming and Tennessee have postponed 440 projects totaling more than $1.3 billion
  • Iowa, South Dakota and Utah have increased gas taxes. Others that may follow include Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Carolina
  • Seeking funds from advertisers: Virginia sells space on highway rest stop signs to GEICO; Travelers Marketing sponsors highway patrols in Massachusetts
  • Partnering with private investors: Florida is seeking private funds to rebuild portions of Interstate 4; New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia are seeking similar ventures

Kiplinger editors add:

But states can only do so much on their own. Ultimately, Congress must act. Odds favor another temporary fix this fall. A long-term solution will likely wait until 2017. Congress and a new president will have a fresh opportunity to tackle broad tax reform, including a possible hike in federal fuel taxes, which no longer approach what’s needed to pay for highway work.

Not what many want to hear in terms of the time frame.

78% of Hoosier Manufacturers Predict Growth in the Next Two Years

An excerpt from a report released by Katz Sapper & Miller

Just four years ago, many Hoosier manufacturers were nearly swamped by the challenges presented by the financial crisis and the resulting Great Recession.

Recovery ensued for many in 2011 and 2012, but most could not help but wonder if the improvement was simply a return to a pre-crisis normalcy or the beginning of a renaissance in manufacturing, powered by energy-cost advantages and onshoring. The 2014 Indiana Manufacturing Survey results provide more clues.

All things considered, Indiana manufacturers have experienced steady improvement, with the percentage describing their financial position as “challenged” dropping to 17%, down from 21% in both the 2013 and 2012 surveys and down from a whopping 47% in the 2011 survey. Not so coincidentally, 47% of Indiana manufacturers now describe their financial performance as “healthy,” up from 34% in 2013 and back in line with the improvement observed in 2012, when 44% responded as such (versus only 21% in 2011).

These new results confirm the trend we noted in last year’s report: Indiana manufacturing has made significant financial and operational improvements while rebounding from the recession. Raw materials, work-in-process and finished-goods inventories are under control; suppliers and accounts receivables are being paid on a timely basis; and a host of operational performance measures, from customer satisfaction to product quality, have noticeably improved. Indeed, Indiana manufacturing is on a path that could see it grow in terms of employment and economic output to levels not seen in more than a decade.

Also view this corresponding infographic.

Keystone XL Pipeline Defeat Will Likely Be Short-Lived

119744231The Keystone XL Pipeline bill was narrowly defeated Tuesday in the U.S. Senate. Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar offers his thoughts on the policy and the latest activity in Washington:

“Canada is going to continue to develop the oil sands and sell to other nations whether the U.S. allows the Keystone XL Pipeline or not. Whatever the impact that activity has on the environment, the activity is still going to happen. That’s the reality. Continued posturing by the Obama Administration and others amid calls from environmental groups isn’t going to change that.

Other countries are looking out for their energy futures. The U.S. needs to as well. Going forward with the Keystone XL Pipeline is an important part of the mix. It would strengthen and expand our already vital energy relationship with Canada. And sourcing more of our energy from a friendly, North American neighbor will help reduce our reliance on energy resources from less stable areas of the world.

Indiana is fortunate to have two senators – Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly – who understand the pipeline’s importance and have been staunch supporters of the project. It’s too bad the Senate, on the whole, couldn’t get past politics and do the right thing for our nation’s energy security. However, we look forward to early 2015 when this measure seems destined to finally pass the Senate and make its way to the President’s desk.

Background: The proposed Keystone XL project would construct a 1,700 mile pipeline to transport about 800,000 barrels a day of heavy crude oil from tar sand fields in Canada across the central U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

America, the Beautiful

7659613I love traveling. In fact, I am infatuated with traveling.

I’ve been to six different countries across three continents, and in January I plan on studying abroad in Europe for four months. It’s my greatest pleasure to seek adventure and experience culture, but something I often forget is just how awesome our home country is.

I found a list on BuzzFeed of the 29 most breathtaking places in the United States. You’ll want to check this out — and you might even need to update your bucket list.

Paige Ferise, a sophomore at Butler University, is interning in the Indiana Chamber communications department this fall.

Breaking Bad? Google Chairman Warns That Governments Could Effectively ‘Break Internet’

WIn a recent event hosted by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Google Chairman Eric Schmidt offered an alarming prediction that governments, especially our own, could end up splintering the Internet into pieces. This, he argues, is because countries may prefer to operate their own Internet instead of allowing surveillance organizations, such as the National Security Agency, to collect data on their citizenry.

Wyden added that this would hurt American tech companies — and thus eliminate some American jobs.

Be sure to read the full National Journal article about these remarks, and watch the brief video featuring Schmidt’s comments.

Poll: Almost One in Four Americans Open to Separating from U.S.

CAlthough Scotland’s movement to secede from the United Kingdom fell a bit short at the ballot box, it appears it’s not just 45% of Scots who have separation on their minds.

And frankly, it’s no secret most Americans aren’t enthusiastic about the federal government these days. Between gridlock, behemoth budgets and trying to solve the health care puzzle, many have grown frustrated. Poll results explained in this Reuters article, however, are still a bit alarming.

Whoever takes the White House in 2016 may have his/her hands full in trying to unify the country.