WELLSBURG - Uncertainty.
That was a the key word local business leaders communicated to U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, during a roundtable discussion Friday at Eagle Manufacturing Co.
The free-wheeling discussion included McKinley soliciting opinions from those attending on possible tax hikes he said businesses might be facing with the possible expiration of the Bush tax cuts and potential new taxes on those earning $250,000 annually at the end of the year. McKinley explained the situation to those gathered, as well as the possible ramifications tax increases and Obamacare may have on small businesses.
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, met with local business leaders in Wellsburg Friday to discuss federal tax and other issues during a roundtable discussion at Eagle Manufacturing Co. McKinley said he was there to solicit opinions on several upcoming key congressional votes that could affect their operations. -- Mark Miller
"What is facing Congress at the end of 2012 is concerning," said McKinley, adding congressional action on taxes and the debt ceiling would affect small businesses.
McKinley said the failure of a bi-partisan, congressional "super-committee" on agreeing to $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts in defense and other discretionary funds as well as the expiration of the Bush tax cuts was creating uncertainty in the business world.
"We want to remove the uncertainty," he said. "We want to know what is going to happen. There's also going to be another vote on raising the debt ceiling (near the year's end)."
McKinley also said expiration of a payroll tax cut would affect individuals and businesses alike, along with decreased payments to physicians for patient services from Medicare.
"People could perceive the (end of the holiday tax cut) as a tax increase," said McKinley, adding funds for the tax holiday were taken from Social Security to make up the difference for lost federal tax revenue. "They took $180 billion out of Social Security for this."
McKinley also criticized the U.S. Senate, which he said "has just voted to raise taxes on those making $250,000 and above.
"I don't think they were serious about it," he continued adding the Senate can't set tax policy, according to the Constitution.
He also said the automatic tax increase would result in an $848 billion tax increase imposed on citizens and businesses over the next 10 years. McKinley additionally cited a statistic where he said congressional failure to act would result in increased taxes on 894,000 small businesses nationwide.
Joe Eddy, president of Eagle Manufacturing Co., said the uncertainty at the federal levels of government is preventing businesses from economic planning for the future.
"It's very critical for us to have stability and security," said Eddy, adding businesses have faced uncertain economic times since 2008. "We are not out of that recession. We need that stability. This is such an inopportune time for this to happen. The timing is terrible. Let's delay this until we can get our arms around it."
Mark Henne, city manager for Wellsburg, also said the uncertain federal outlook was affecting city operations.
"We're trying to grow because that's out future," he said. "We'd like to hire more people, but we can't because of the uncertainty."
The roundtable also discussed the impact Obamacare would have on smaller businesses. Beri Fox, president and chief executive officer for Marble King, said businesses are "spreading themselves thin" trying to determine what the future holds.
"I think parts of (Obamacare) are good," said Fox, adding doing away with the pre-existing conditions clause is good news for employees. She also said she isn't sure what the overall economic impact of Obamacare will be on her company.
Fox also said she believes corporations should pay taxes and that companies that shipped jobs overseas "should pay their fair share." Fox also said there is over-regulation on the federal level, and cited examples how it affected her business.
McKinley agreed, and said many legislators don't understand how businesses operate.
"There are only two engineers in all of Congress," said McKinley, adding he was one of them, and over-regulation of business is a problem. "Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Let's back off. Now isn't the time (for additional regulations)."
McKinley ended up telling the roundtable he was trying to work in a bi-partisan fashion to come up with solutions to assist small businesses. He added there is too much finger-pointing and political posturing in Washington and not enough serious discussion.
"It's good to know we have somebody that cares about local manufacturing," said Fox.
(Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)