Ben Barrow, president of LRA Constructors Inc, says he doesn’t think Obama’s proposed jobs plan would create many new jobs. Barrow said that reducing the size of government and the severity of OSHA regulations would do more to help employment.
ALBANY, Ga. — President Obama recently presented to Congress his plan to increase jobs in America. At a pricetag of $450 billion, his ideas have raised more than a few eyebrows across the nation and have left Georgia business owners shaking their heads.
Targeting “small” businesses — establishments of 100 or fewer employees — the plan is intended to make it easier for owners to hire. It halves the employer share of payroll taxes to 3.1 percent on the first $5 million in wages and extends a provision that permits companies to fully depreciate in the first year certain purchases that would normally be amortized over as many as 20 years.
In addition, it provides employer tax credits of as much as $9,600 for hiring individuals who have been unemployed for at least six months. The president would eliminate the entire 6.2 percent payroll tax on any increase in payroll up to $50 million above the prior year. The growth in wages could be spent on either new hires or raises for existing employees. There are other provisions in the plan, including the establishment of an infrastructure bank from which states could borrow money to create or improve roads and bridges.
Ben Barrow, president of LRA Constructors, Inc., is far from sold on the ideas and offers his own suggestions toward improving the economy.
“Most business people aren’t looking for another tax incentive to hire people,” Barrow said. “Frankly, we are not looking for gimmicks that are short-term in nature, but are unfounded and lead to a greater national debt.”
Barrow wants “less harassment” from OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Heath Administration) and the establishment of tort reform.
“Stop the excessive regulations,” Barrow said, “We don’t need the government to tell us who to hire and how to act in the office. The government needs to stop giving people something for nothing. The person does not benefit and it destroys their self-worth and incentive. Everyone needs to make a contribution.”
Payne Hughes, president of Thrush Aircraft Inc., has a similar opinion.
“Obama is raising taxes to pay for this handout, so I’m against it. He’s never thought about cutting government. He says he’s raising taxes just on those who make $200,000 or more. I know a lot of people who make that much. They’re in the middle class. It depends a lot on where you live. It costs so much to live in New York, for example, you’re in the middle class with $200,000.”
Hughes said that the county will start to recover when we “resolve our banking issues” and reduce the size of government.
Hugh Waters, owner of One Plus Mail, doesn’t see much of anything in the plan to prompt new hiring.
“I’ll hire again when we have more work than our employees can handle. Certainly with the incentives, I would seriously look at those who are long-term unemployed but, on balance, I would hire the best employee to meet my needs. In the event of a tie, the long long-term unemployed would have the edge.”
Hans Pomeroy, president of Brad Lanier Oil Co. Inc., believes that most companies would hire only because of need and that tax credits for hiring are “meaningless.” He called payroll tax holidays “another meaningless accounting nightmare.”
“Reducing taxes overall will do more than anything,” Pomeroy said.
Pomeroy is in favor of extending bonus depreciation, he said.
Michael Rogers, professor of economics at Albany State University, sees some positive points to Obama’s plan.
“His focus on jobs and growth was great,” Rogers said. He’s right to emphasize the federal debt priority, and he presented his plan to Congress with bold leadership.”
Rogers said that it should be recognized that wages are too low for most Americans, and that lack of demand is the primary reason for our persistent unemployment.
“Obama hasn’t gone far enough,” he said. “He’s short by about half of what is really needed to make a dent in unemployment and to create demand. Now is not the time to focus on reducing debt. That will happen naturally when we create jobs so consumers have money to buy goods and services.”
Among other things, Rogers believes the U.S. should re-create the WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps to put long-term unemployed back to work; create an infrastructure bank to repair the nation’s roads, bridges and airports; provide tax incentives to employers who create net new jobs, and provide partial unemployment benefits to people who have lost part-time jobs.
Rogers commends the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce which is “not only directly assisting small business growth and development, but also attacking the root cause of poverty in our community. “
“When poor people have jobs and income, they participate fully in our economic growth and viability,” Rogers said.
Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College, says that “This plan is better than no plan at all. The job picture will improve when housing improves ... period.”
According to Johnson, the nation still has an “excess of housing stock” that has gone unsold and, once that’s cleared out, income will begin to generate.
“The job picture will start to improve and people will buy homes again,” he said. “When that happens, people will fill them with furniture and appliances. Home equity will drive new loans. We feel richer, and the the economy improves.”