People don't know

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator

AUG. 26, 2013 -- People don't know:


1.) That Republicans and Democrats in Congress got along together; wheeled and dealed until the Buckley v. Valeo decision permitted unlimited spending by rich candidates. Republicans and Democrats started raising money against each other to defend against rich candidates buying the office. Partisanship set in. Congress relied more and more on lobbyists for money. Now the lobbyists control government. The lobbyists wheel and deal, fix the vote, long before the Roll is called and in fact tell the Speaker or Leader when to call the Roll. The President and Congress tried to control the gun - control vote but the lobbyists won - now control immigration.

2.) The Congress has tried for 35 years to correct this with McCain-Feingold, public finance, etc. but now the Supreme Court has given unlimited spending to corporations. The only way to correct this is a Constitutional Amendment: "The Congress is empowered to limit or control spending in federal elections." Congress can then do what President Nixon signed into law in 1973 -- limit spending to so much per registered voter. This will limit the lobbyists, have Congress back in control of the government and break gridlock.

3.) That to create jobs the government must make it profitable for industry to invest and produce. Industry will invest in a nation that's fiscally sound, has fair taxes and protects industry's investment.

4.) That President Bush and Obama have failed to protect industry's investment by enforcing trade laws against predatory practices. As a result Corporate America offshores its innovation, research, technology, production and jobs to such an extent that the U.S. lost one third of its manufacture between 2001 and 2010.

5.) That the recession has been over for four years and the reason the economy hasn't bounced back is that we are offshoring the economy as fast as it's being strengthened.

6.) That Wall Street, the big banks and Corporate America want to keep the China profits flowing so they contribute to the President and Congress not to disturb their offshoring; not to attract industry; to do nothing and the President and Congress do nothing.

7.) That while the people are disgusted with the "do nothing" President and Congress, the President and Congress are perfectly happy campaigning, fundraising, staying out of trouble, not voting, attending parties, traveling the world, and engaging in the best Off Broadway show to make it look like they are concerned.

8.) That the 35 percent Corporate Income Tax is not rebated on exports but the Value Added Tax is rebated. That not having a VAT is killing manufacture in the U.S. The U.S. manufacturer has to pay the 35 percent Corporate Tax and is levied a 17 percent VAT when his exports reach Shanghai. A competitor can produce the same product in China, import it tax free into the United States and put the U.S. manufacturer out of business.

9.) That industry could easily be attracted to invest by replacing the 35 percent Corporate Tax with a 7 percent VAT. Last year's Corporate Tax produced $236.8 billion in revenues. A 7 percent VAT for 2012 would have produced $922 billion. This permits balancing the budget in two years rather than ten. The VAT is easily administered by 150 countries competing in globalization. This cuts the Corporate Tax, not the personal income tax, so it can't be regressive. This VAT tax cut is self-enforcing, closes all loopholes, giving instant tax reform. This VAT tax cut frees $2 trillion in offshore profits for Corporate America to repatriate tax free and create millions of jobs.

10.) That President Obama realized that the majority of Congress knew more about government than he does so he campaigns to compensate. President Obama now is on a tour to campuses but he has more pressing problems than college costs. He should govern. He could have golf rounds with Congressmen and pick up votes for his policies. He could tell the people there isn't a dependable group to help in Syria so we're not going in. The Affordable Care Act is not politically affordable so let the Republicans defund it and not have to defend it next year.

Like the people, I don't know what will happen with three more years of this.

Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2013, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives.

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