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Obama tries to unite parties on jobs
GOP unlikely to back parts of plan
Democrats in Congress have been reluctant to move on trade agreements, contending that the deals usually provide lopsided benefits for countries seeking access to U.S. markets and need to be modified to address concerns about workers’ rights and pollution.
The Economic Policy Institute, a labor-funded group, estimates that Mr. Obama’s Korean trade deal will cost the U.S. 159,000 jobs, taking into account the jobs lost in industries that compete with South Korean imports.
“Whether trade creates U.S. jobs depends on net export gains and reducing the trade deficit, which our past policies have not done,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “U.S. export growth under past free trade agreements has been less than half that of countries with which we do not have agreements.”
On corporate tax reform, Mr. Krueger noted that a bipartisan group of senators already is drafting a comprehensive bill that targets for elimination many cherished loopholes in the interest of reducing the top rate from 34 percent to as low as 28 percent. That would make keeping corporate offices and plants in the U.S. and hiring American workers more attractive to global corporations.
But analysts are not sure how far Mr. Obama will go in endorsing such an ambitious rewrite of the tax code. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has been meeting with corporate executives in recent weeks in developing the administration’s blueprint, and has given few clues about the specifics.
Businesses are downright enthusiastic about legislation this year that would promote free trade and cut corporate taxes, and insist it will get the great American job machine up and running again.
“The federal corporate tax rate in the United States is about 9 percentage points above the G-20 average,” said Brian Gardner, a Washington analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. “This compromises U.S. competitiveness,” he said, touching on a major theme in Mr. Obama’s speech.
“We think Republicans and the administration can agree to cut corporate taxes to the G-20 average or lower and hang a big ‘Open for Business’ sign for companies around the globe,” he said. “There are few measures that will be as helpful for increasing employment.”
Manufacturing groups and many other businesses also support Mr. Obama’s call for increased spending on infrastructure. They say decaying roads and bridges are hurting the efficiency of U.S. industries and making them less competitive in global markets.
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