(Photo courtesy House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office)
From access to financing to overreaching federal regulations to federal tax policy, business representatives discussed impediments to job growth at a forum held Wednesday by U.S. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th.
Cantor said he sponsored the forum, held at Virginia Commonwealth University, to discover “What things are standing in the way of job creation?” The forum included five business leaders and was moderated by Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.
Complex federal regulations were a common complaint from participants. Elizabeth M. Bentley, executive vice president of retail banking for Union First Market Bank, said the 2,300-page Frank-Dodd Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act would have an uncertain effect on community banks. “My fear is that our job creation is going to be about compliance and not bankers who are out in the community serving customers,” she said.
Robert T. Skunda, president and CEO of the Virginia Biotechnology Park, said it can take up to a year for certain bioscience laboratories to be approved. While well intentioned “many times [regulations] can go overboard,” Skunda said.
Cantor said Republicans plan to introduce a bill that would require congressional approval of any regulation from a federal agency that could impact the economy.
Neil Amin, the CEO of Chester-based Shamin Hotels, said access to capital and the new federal health-care law were primary concerns for his business.
“We have so many projects we want to do…,” says Amin. “But we have not been able to get financing.” Amin says the hotel has been forced to keep extra cash on hand, which the company would normally invest elsewhere.
Cantor said House Republicans will push for tax policy reform that would reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and avoid “loopholes” and incentives for “special interests.”
“We are also looking at individual rates as well because many small businesses operate as pass through entities and we want equal incentive there so that entrepreneurs can begin to grow again,“ Cantor said. “So with that I think you will see some activity throughout the rest of year on tax reform.“
Fletcher Mangum of Mangum Economic Consulting in Richmond said a broad-based tax policy would promote private investment growth. “The broader your tax base is, the better,” he said, promoting the use of consumption taxes.
Increased fuel prices also garnered criticism. John F. Biogas, president and CEO of Bay Electric Co. in Newport News, said fuel bills for his contracting business were up $15,000 per month because of the rise in gas prices.
The end of the forum was punctuated by a political activist from Moveon.org, who shouted from the audience, asking why Cantor had focused instead on social issues such as “attacking women’s health,“ and NPR funding rather than job creation. Cantor spoke briefly with a few activists.
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