Reform, Opportunity, and Investment

My Plan for Economic Development in the 6th District
 

Congress needs to create the economic environment to spur growth and create new jobs. Instead, today’s Congress is standing in the way and standing by—standing in the way of job growth due to partisan gridlock and taxes that hurt small businesses, and standing by as the middle class gets squeezed.

Growing up in a Democratic household in a small town, I learned early on that we are all connected. Small businesses create solid middle class jobs, and a thriving middle class pumps money back into the local economy. When the middle class can’t grow, America’s greatest economic engine is starved. We need leaders in Congress who have the commitment and experience to create more jobs for the middle class, both for the nation at large and right here in the 6th district.

Small businesses are America’s greatest source of new jobs and innovation, and they are critical to the 6th district. I started a small business myself, and I hear from small business people all the time who can’t understand why they pay higher tax rates than the big corporations they compete with. Congress needs to reform the tax code to help small businesses and eliminate the loopholes that only benefit big corporations.

Meanwhile, those of us in the middle class are getting squeezed. Prices for everything are rising fast—food, college tuition, heath care, prescription drugs—but wages are not keeping up. Congress has done a lot to help the rich, and does a lot to help the poor (though it could do more), but Congress seems to be forgetting the middle class.

It’s time for a new generation of leadership to make the comprehensive changes required to get our economy back on track, level the playing field to grow the middle class, and ensure that a prosperous and fair America be an economic leader for the future the way it has been in the past.

There are a number of ways that Congress can help our economy grow faster and bring jobs back to the 6th district. I will focus initially on three: 

  • Reform the tax code to help small businesses: We need a tax code that supports small businesses, enables them to succeed, and expands their payrolls to include more workers.
  • Improve educational opportunities for all: A quality education is the best way to ensure future generations are prepared for the workforce, and a well-trained workforce attracts jobs to the district.
  • Build local infrastructure to create jobs and attract businesses to the 6th district: Smart transportation improvements, downtown economic development zones, and targeted flood protection and other federal support will attract more businesses to the district.

 

Reform the Tax Code to Help Small Businesses

140708_BiOM_Tour_in_Bedford_2.JPGIn order to prepare our economy to be mission ready for the long-term, I support smart, simplified, and comprehensive tax reform to help small businesses prosper and hire additional workers. If every small business in the 6th district was able to hire one additional worker, we could make back all of the jobs lost to outsourcing between 2001 and 2013. To achieve this goal, we need to lower the tax rate on small businesses, while closing the loopholes letting big businesses off the hook.

Most politicians view taxes in the United States as a binary question: “Do we tax more or less?” Instead of glossing over the tax code, my stance is that taxes need to be comprehensively reformed. For example, I support closing the Water’s Edge loophole, which allows companies to hide domestic income in overseas bank accounts, while also adopting Combined Reporting for all multinational businesses. Combined Reporting allows for simple, unified tax reporting for large corporations, making it easier for businesses to file and harder to avoid paying taxes on hidden profits.

Small businesses bear the burden as Congress adds complexity to the tax code. To help small business grow, Congress should not simply add taxes upon taxes or loopholes into loopholes.  This is a short-term fix and only increases complexity and hurts taxpayers and small business alike.  A new generation of leadership in Congress is needed to transform our tax code in a comprehensive, cohesive manner that stresses smart, simple taxation to help small businesses and the middle class.

I believe that taxes in the United States, on both the corporate and personal level, are generally too high. They remain so high due to the large number of loopholes that allow major corporations and wealthy citizens to pay well less than their fair share. In fact, tax haven abuses alone cost the U.S. nearly $150 billion in tax revenues each year, a burden ultimately shouldered by small businesses and citizens. Small businesses and the middle class therefore have to pick up the bill and also face high fixed costs for compliance. By reforming the tax code to help small businesses, we can jumpstart our most powerful engine of economic development, employment, and innovation.

 

Improve Educational Opportunities for All

Congress needs to invest in the future of the American worker. The best way to do that is to provide every child with an excellent education. Today, a child’s zip code too often determines the quality of education he or she will receive. Kids growing up in poverty are entering kindergarten already 18 months behind their peers in wealthier communities. If we’re going to prepare kids for the workforce, we need to start by providing them with access to a good education. 

Over the past eighteen years, U.S. workers have been under increasing threat from competition abroad. This has been especially true in the 6th district, where we lost 8,797 jobs between 2001 and 2011. Most of these employment opportunities were middle class manufacturing jobs. We need to increase access to technical education programs - such as technical and vocational job training at community colleges, and technical education and research from high school to graduate school. Such education initiatives will increase productivity and grow job opportunities for the middle class.

140515_Essex_Tech_1.jpgFurther, I support federal investments in large-scale research and development initiatives. Our technological edge and overall employment can be increased by federal investments in advanced telecommunications, sustainable energy, transit systems, and local innovation districts. Congressional spending on major research initiatives over the last century has resulted in significant advances for both civilian and military use, ranging from the GPS to the internet. These initiatives have increased job growth and increased American security. To generate American jobs and improve our competitiveness, I support increasing Congressional spending towards large-scale technology projects, specifically in energy, infrastructure, telecommunications, and advanced supply-side healthcare. These projects are positive-yielding investments, both for long-term returns and American middle class employment.

Supporting the technical revolution and investing in the American worker also require immigration reform to attract and retain the best global minds. Congress needs to streamline the path to citizenship for those who receive technical degrees at U.S. colleges and universities while also easing the ability of talented professionals to remain in the country while employed or while building their own companies. We cannot lose talent to paperwork.

 

Build local infrastructure to create jobs and attract businesses to the 6th district

One of the smartest long-term investments we can make is in our infrastructure, creating jobs during construction and attracting businesses and jobs to the district for long-term economic growth. Investing in common-sense projects, like upgrading our existing roads and bridges while expanding rail and ferry service, can make places like Lynn and Bedford as attractive as faster-growing areas like Somerville or South Boston. Half the bridges in Essex County are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Commuter rail service is infrequent and irregular, and efforts to expand existing lines have languished for years.

131015_Salem_Commuter_Rail_1.jpgI will support expanding the frequency and speed of commuter rail service, to attract more passengers and reduce its environmental impact, by converting it to electric-powered trains. Most modern commuter rail systems worldwide use electric trains, but the MBTA still uses diesel locomotives. Electric trains have faster acceleration, so trip times can be up to 30% faster. They also can be split into shorter trains, making it economical to operate frequent all-day services, every 10 or 15 minutes, more like the T in Boston. Together, these changes can double ridership. Electric trains are also quieter and do not emit any fumes.

A recent study of commuter rail line services in Toronto showed that these changes can bring $5 in benefits for every $1 in cost. Since the trains, tracks and train crew are needed anyway, the extra fare revenue can pay back the initial investment to convert to electric trains, reducing the burden on taxpayers. And because it will lead to dramatically increased ridership, it will take pressure off of our overcrowded roads. As Congressman, I will continue to push for the power for the system to come from renewable sources, meaning that the entire commuter rail system can be emission-free.

I will continue to fight for the Blue Line extension to Lynn to be finally approved, fully funded, and completed. This is exactly the kind of common-sense investment that can make the 6th district regionally competitive for decades to come.

Investing in local infrastructure also means the Congressman should act as a convener. Some of the most important local investments, such as reducing flooding in downtown Peabody, require cooperation and shared investment among several towns. As your Congressman, I have fought, and will continue to fight, to make regional cooperation a hallmark of the 6th district. 

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We need Congressional leadership that helps our economy grow in the long-term and increases job opportunities for all Americans. The way to do that is stop governing crisis-to-crisis, because it leaves businesses unsure of the future, wastes taxpayer resources, and lowers our international business standing. In Congress, I support long-term policies that clearly articulate a set of economic goals – including common sense tax reform, expanding educational opportunity, and increased infrastructure investment – and hold party leaders responsible for these goals.

As Americans, we need to ask more of Congress. We need real job growth, not just economic employment on paper; we need to prepare our workers for the 21st century economy; we need to invest in productive sectors that make sense in the long term; we need to help small businesses grow and increase payroll. In Congress, I will always fight to make sure our economic policy ensures that American jobs are strong and that we ensure a bright future for our children.