Labor Day is bittersweet for too many Ohioans. On a holiday meant to celebrate the end of summer with a day off from work, too many of our friends and neighbors will spend it looking through the Want Ads for a job. Full-time jobs are hard to come by, while more and more people are forced into part-time work. More and more Ohioans are having to take two or even three jobs just to make ends meet. Washington can and should do more to help.
We should start by reforming our broken tax code. Burger King is just the latest company to move its headquarters to another country to avoid our overcomplicated and burdensome code. Our tax rate is the highest in the world at 35 percent. Canada, where Burger King is moving, has a 15 percent rate. The math isn’t complicated.
We need to bring our code in line with the rest of the world. We haven’t reformed our tax code since 1986, and a lot has changed since then. We should eliminate the special interest tax loopholes, carve-outs, and preferences that allow some companies to pay little or no taxes and use the savings to pay for a rate cut to make America more competitive with the rest of the world. This reform isn’t about helping corporate boardrooms.
The experts tell us that more than 70 percent of the benefit of tax reform would go to workers in the form of higher wages and benefits. Comprehensive tax reform is one of the best things we could do for Americans who are struggling to find a job today.
We also need a true all-of-the-above energy policy that takes advantage of our abundant energy resources. Many Ohioans will hit the road this weekend, and they’ll find the cost to buy a gallon of gas is painfully high. At the same time, the price of electricity is rising as utility companies struggle under more and more burdensome regulations from Washington. These costs have ripple effects throughout the economy, limiting growth, causing the cost of goods to rise, and making it harder for companies to expand and hire new workers.
We can do better. First, we should continue to move towards North American energy independence. Oil production on private lands has soared. We need to open more public lands to energy production to continue that expansion.
We should also do more to encourage energy efficiency measures that can cut costs for consumers and businesses by passing my Energy Efficiency and Industrial Competitiveness Act. And we should pass regulatory reform that strengthens cost-benefit analysis so we can ensure that new regulations don’t do more harm than good while destroying jobs and making it harder for American companies to compete.
Finally, we know that too many Americans can’t find good jobs because they don’t have the skills they need to compete in the modern economy. Earlier this year, we took steps to reform our worker training programs when provisions of my CAREER Act were signed into law by the President. These provisions will ensure that we encourage training programs that actually work and provide the kind of skills and credentials that are in demand in the area. But there is so much more that needs to be done to provide better education and worker training to close the skills gap. A 21st century economy requires a 21st century workforce.
The recession hit people hard, especially the Middle Class. Many families are still struggling to get back on their feet and are anxious and uncertain about the future. Washington needs to stop the bickering and get to work to help them. By passing these reforms, we can start to get our economy back on track and help ensure that this time next year, Labor Day is a holiday millions more Americans can truly enjoy.
Senator Rob Portman represents Ohio in the Senate and is a guest columnist.