As I have travelled Maryland’s 1st Congressional District in my run for Congress I have seen firsthand how our economy is improving and how far we still have to go. The economy is indeed turning around. But to continue that trend we need to be vigilant and continue to make the changes necessary to build a sustainable economy.
That is why I applaud the President’s plan to close many of the loopholes that allow our largest corporations to avoid paying any meaningful taxes. I am even more excited about his announced plan to tax the foreign earnings of multinational corporations. For too long corporations have been able to play a shell game with their profits; the end result of all of this has always been a larger burden on hard working Americans, small business owners, and Main Street’s throughout the nation.
The President’s plan will do much to create an economy that prioritizes the American worker. Of particular note is his willingness to give tax breaks to manufacturer’s who make things here in the United States. Our economy has always been at its best when we are making American products, selling American products and giving people the opportunity to buy American products. That is why I support the President’s plan. That is also why I think that, while it is a good start, it is not enough.
This country needs a plan to create a sustainable economy. Statistics show us that the best way to do that is to build policy that allows the businesses that create the most jobs to prosper; historically, 78% of new jobs are created by startups and by small businesses. We know that the key to sustained economic prosperity is less vacancy signs on Main Street and more manufacturing in the United States. That is why I am proposing five actions the government can take that will put people back to work, increase entrepreneurship, and promote American manufacturing.
1.) Divert a minimum of 15% of Small Business Administration Loans to Micro-Manufacturer’s and Startups. Currently less than 1% of SBA loans go to companies with less than 25 employees, yet these companies historically account for 78% of the new jobs created. By drastically increasing the amount of capital available to this sector of the economy you promote job creation and entrepreneurship. It is time for our government to be honest about what small business really means.
2.) Create regional trade shows solely for American Manufacturers. Currently, there is only one tradeshow that caters only to American Micro-manufacturers. That show is the Buyers Market of American Craft which I founded, and which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. The craftsmen and manufacturers that bring their products to The Buyer’s Market sell around $30 million dollars worth of product to buyers from around the country and the world, and build relationships that allow them to sell much more product over the course of the year. This has a very real positive effect on our economy and is a model that could be replicated through grants, loans or tax credits.
We need these shows in order to counteract the fact that foreign governments often fully subsidize their country’s manufacturers to attend trade shows on American soil. Our own small businesses are left to wither due to the increasing prices for attending these shows. These shows are one of the most effective ways for a small manufacturer to get their products in front of buyers for retailers from all over the world. Unless we level the playing field our own companies will never be able to fully compete with their foreign rivals.
3.) Create a ‘Buy Local’ initiative. Every time I walk into a grocery store it pains me to see produce from California, Florida, or Mexico that we are also growing right here in Maryland. By educating the population about the amount of produce that is available to them locally, and by offering incentives to both buy and sell local produce and other products, we can create jobs where there currently are none. Additionally, this would put an end to wasteful fuel use, decrease our dependency on foreign oil, and lower our overall carbon footprint. Instituting these initiatives would create jobs, strengthen local economies, decrease our dependence on the Middle East, and is good for the environment. It is a no-brainer.
4.) Enforce the laws that require products to be indelibly marked with country of origin. Of course, creating jobs costs money and we need to pay for these ideas. Enforcing existing legislation that requires products to be indelibly marked with their country of origin or pay a 10% penalty would go a long way towards paying for these economy boosters. Every year products flood our market that ignore these laws and, even worse, pass themselves off as American products. Whether it is ‘Chesapeake Candles’ that are made in China or ‘Maryland Crabcakes’ that come from the Philippines this is unacceptable. There is nothing wrong with selling foreign products in our stores and markets. There is a lot wrong with committing fraud to make us feel like we are buying American products. It has to stop and those who do so need to be paying a price that has been passed on to the public for far too long.
5.) Offer tax incentives to those stores that sell primarily American products. The President’s plan to offer tax incentives to those who make products in American is an important step. However, we cannot stop there. The city of Philadelphia recently received over $50 million dollars in tax credits for small business owners in economically depressed areas of the city. We must offer similar tax credits to retailers across the nation whose inventory is more than 75% American Made. By supporting those who make things in America and those who sell American made products we are improving our economy, creating jobs, and setting the right priorities.
These are five simple steps we could take that would reinvigorate local economies in Maryland and around the nation. There are many more things we can, and eventually must do to build the sustainable economy we need. However, these five simple ideas would do so much to create jobs, promote entrepreneurship, and put more money in the hands of the middle class rather than Wall Street. Now is the time, as the economy beings to improve, to take the steps necessary to promote a healthy economy. Because we certainly cannot wait until the next bubble, the next crisis, or the next recession to act.