The recent Labor Day weekend marked the 36th straight month that the US economy has added jobs. Unemployment in the United States is below the average of recent years. In almost every state in the country, the economy is humming along at near full employment and employers report they are having a hard time filling all the positions they have.
My home state, Michigan, is not one of them.
While the rest of the nation enjoys a 4.7 percent unemployment rate, Michigan's unemployment rate is at 7 percent. Since August of 2003, 5.7 million new jobs have been created in the rest of the country, but in Michigan we're continuing to struggle. And our future isn't looking any rosier.
Although the reasons for Michigan's malaise are varied, one big reason is our state's almost uniquely uncompetitive tax structure, which one General Motors official called the costliest of all jurisdictions where GM operates.
As Ronald Reagan understood, the difference between a good tax structure and a poor one has a very real impact not only on how much money we have in our pockets every April 15th, but whether we have a job to support our families in the first place. According to the Tax Foundation, if Michigan were to eliminate its Single Business Tax, our unique and arcane method for taxing businesses, we would have the best business climate in the region.
A recent study conducted at the US Department of the Treasury reinforces the connection between lower taxes and stronger economic growth. The study found that making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent would increase the country’s economic output significantly. But Congress will need to act if this is to happen.
When the Republican Congress cut taxes in 2001 and 2003, spurring the 36 month growth in jobs, it unfortunately had to put a time limit on the tax cut to satisfy arcane congressional budget rules that only a true Washington insider could love. Therefore, Congress made the cuts "expire" after 2010, which means that unless Congress acts to make these tax cuts permanent, we'll be left on January 1, 2011 with a massive tax increase.
These tax cuts have lowered federal taxes for over 3.5 million Michigan residents and nearly 750,000 small businesses and if they were to expire, it would not only cripple our business climate, but also Michigan's families. In fact, Treasury officials calculate that if the tax cuts are allowed to increase in 2011, a family of four living on $50,000 a year would see its taxes jump from $1,600 to $3,700 per year – an increase of around 130 percent.
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