Michigan Democrat faces 'polite but concerned' crowd in Midland
“Polite but concerned” best describes the mood which confronted U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow at a recent speech and question and answer session.
The Midland Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the “Issues & Answers” event with Sen. Stabenow. The Democrat is running for re-election in November. She addressed current issues in the nation’s capitol while specifically focusing on manufacturing and job creation.
The two-term senator told the business-friendly crowd that she “knows small business” because of her background as the daughter of a car dealership owner. Sen. Stabenow emphasized a commitment to manufacturing, saying that she supports lower tax rates on those in that select industry.
At other points, she said she supported streamlining government and repealing some regulations. Sen. Stabenow said the first major piece of bipartisan work in the current Congress was repealing the expanded 1099 requirements which “added 2,000 percent” to the amount of paperwork done by small businesses. The 1099 regulation was in the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” and forced businesses to send 1099 forms to the IRS for every annual purchase of goods and services over $600. Sen. Stabenow voted for the Obama health care law.
Sen. Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, also emphasized the importance of farming. She said that “one out of four jobs in Michigan are in agriculture.” According to James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the senator is incorrect about those figures. He notes that the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that only 1 out of 64 jobs in Michigan are in agriculture; even if the definition is expanded to cover forestry, fishing and workers related to farm equipment.
While those in attendance were polite to the Clare native, the question and answer session revealed that many were quite concerned with what is happening in Washington.
Two questions focused on increased regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); one questioner specifically cited his concern that the agency was bypassing Congress. Sen. Stabenow said she pushes the EPA “behind the scenes” and would look into the issues.
The next question concerned the Senate not passing a budget for the last few fiscal years. Traditionally, the U.S. Senate passes an annual budget resolution; something Senate Democrats have not done for over 1,000 days. Sen. Stabenow said this was “politics” and that the Senate had passed a “type of” budget; she was referring to the debt ceiling agreement last summer.
The last questioner was concerned about the United States having the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Sen. Stabenow said there is bipartisan support for lowering this tax rate in order to better compete on a global stage.
“We need corporate tax reform and we need to lower the rate,” she said.