CRESCENT People: Congressman Jeff Duncan Discusses Job Creation and Economic Development

Is government getting in the way of being able to pursue that American dream, at least from the current President’s administration and their philosophy?

Well, the current president and also the past Congress perpetuated that.  Yeah, through the bailouts and the takeovers, takeover of healthcare, the individual mandate requiring somebody to do something.

The fact that we’ve seen more government regulation, that’s going to stymie business growth and opportunity.

If you’re going to start a business today, a new business startup is having to deal with EPA regulations or local business regulations and licensing and then a tax policy.  The uncertainty in the marketplace. People ask themselves, “What are my taxes going to be?”  You know, we see what’s going in Washington.  Folks just want some certainty.  If my tax rate is going to be “X,” I can deal with it.  But we don’t know. We don’t know what Washington’s going to do with taxation and tax policy because every time the President goes to the microphone, he talks about raising taxes.  And he’s run the whole gamut, but when he talks about raising taxes on the wealthiest of Americans, most Americans know that’s going to trickle down to higher costs for them.

So what are tax policies?  What are the regulations going to be that affect my business?  The EPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, things that are changing that are hurting business.

I’m going to change the product here so as not to say what the business is, but we’ve got a business in my district that makes widgets and they’ve been affected because their gadget is compliant with the air quality standards.  But to keep that gadget from being adjusted by me and you, as the end purchaser of that, they have to put a tamper-resistant piece over it to keep you from being able to adjust that gadget because the EPA is saying that, for air quality standard purposes, you shouldn’t adjust that gadget.  It’s set by the factory to meet their air quality emissions.  Well, now they’re having to deal with regulations about that tamper-resistant piece and how long it would take the average individual to defeat that piece so he could adjust that gadget.

And that business is a United States business who has facilities overseas in other countries and they can move the whole operation over there, but they don’t want to that.  But they want some certainty in the marketplace.  “Look, you told us we had to have the widget that had this emission standard.  We’ve done that.  We’ve put the tamper-resistant piece on there to keep the average guy from tampering with the gadget so he won’t affect emissions.  Now you’re basically beating us up over the fact that somebody with a screwdriver in some warehouse somewhere with a hammer, defeated that and in ‘x’ number of minutes and was able to adjust the gadget.”

I just scratch my head and go, “Have we gotten down to that level?”  We’re going to affect that type of business — job-creators in a county in South Carolina that is shipping product worldwide. that is very successful, making a profit, returning shareholder value to the shareholders, providing return on investment.  None of that matters.  It’s whether somebody can defeat that tamper-resistant piece in x number of minutes.

Getting back to the certainty, you’ve got taxation, regulation and litigation.

Litigation.  Companies should be able to make a business decision to locate wherever they want to without fear or retribution or suit from the government.  The NLRB is suing Boeing right now for making a decision to come to South Carolina, a right-to-work state (NOTE: The National Labor Relations Board dropped its case against Boeing on December 9, 2011, after the interview with Congressman Duncan was recorded.).

Let’s say you have a cabinet shop in Wisconsin.  And you look at South Carolina and you say, “You know, there’s a lot of pine down there, and I could move my cabinet shop or my woodworking facility down to South Carolina and be closer to that, that resource.”  So, you make the decision to move down there and you start going through all the licenses and worry about what the state taxes are going to be and locating and then you get a knock on the door and it’s the NLRB saying, “We think you moved to South Carolina because South Carolina is a right-to-work state and you’re from a union state.  We think you’re doing it to punish those union workers by relocating to the right-to-work state and we’re not going to let you locate in South Carolina.  You’ve got to move back to Wisconsin and provide jobs for those union guys.”

And you go, “No, wait a minute, I came because there is an ample supply of soft pine that I can use in my woodworking.”  “No, no, we feel like you moved because you want to punish the union workers up there and you cannot locate in South Carolina. You’ve got to move back.”

That’s what’s Boeing facing right now.  NRLB wants to keep them from building Dreamliners, the airplane that they’re going to build in Charleston.  Keep them from doing that in South Carolina because the NLRB is saying that Boeing did that to punish the union workers in Washington State even though Boeing made the decision to come here.  It’s a right-to-work state, they can manufacture cheaper, the real estate’s less expensive, they were already building part of the fuselage there anyway, and, instead of having to move that around the country, we’ll just build the whole airplane there.  And it’s not just Boeing that’s affected.  It’s everything that goes into that airplane, every widget, every seat cover, wiring harness, windshield, you name it.  Those companies were going to locate in proximity to that plant.

They were going to provide good paying jobs.  They were going to buy real estate, build facilities, and provide that to Boeing and, right now, they can’t make the decision to do that if Boeing has to move back to Washington State.  So it’s not just Boeing that’s affected.

Can’t business owners open or move their businesses wherever it would be best for that business without the government approving where to open that business?

You could until recent memory.

You could until this administration decided they were going to help their buddies in big labor and support union operations.  This is really going to be a landmark case to see if the NLRB has the ability to tell you or Boeing or the cabinet shop I was talking about or any other business where they can locate or where they can’t locate.  I think NLRB is going to lose this suit, but we’re watching it very closely.

That goes back to the uncertainly I talked about.  Taxation, regulation, litigation.

I think government’s role is to provide some sort of certainty to business…large business, small business, job creators…some sort of certainty in the marketplace where they can make decisions.  They know what their taxes are going to be.  They know what regulations they’ve got to comply with.  They know they’re not going to be sued.  Cap-and-trade has kind of gone away, but they know they’re going to have good reliable power, that we’ve got American energy independence, that we’ve got a good stable supply of power and your utility rates are not going to fluctuate dramatically year-to-year because of somebody’s idea that the earth is getting warmer because of greenhouse emissions and global warming.  Luckily, that’s off the table for now.  But if we have this president re-elected next time or Congress stays the way it is or changes back, that’s definitely back in play.

A president who conveniently decided to delay his decision on the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline...

He delayed it until after the election.  His Department of State and a lot of others are fine with Keystone, so he delayed to basically cozy up to the environmentalists.  It’s (Keystone) the right thing, it’s a job creator.

He was out there on this jobs tour.  I really ought to take the “s” off and call it a “job tour” because he’s only trying to protect his own job, but the Keystone XL pipeline would have provided a tremendous number of jobs, even in South Carolina because of the pipe manufacturing, the tires that go to the oil companies using the oil sands in Canada.

They’re made by Michelin in Lexington County, South Carolina.

There’s a trickle down of about two or three thousand jobs for our state.  But about 200,000 jobs nationwide that would have gone along with construction of that pipeline and also the refining capacity, ramping up the refineries down in the Gulf Coast states, the shipping, everything you can think of.  It’s a job creator and the president killed it or at least delayed it.  Delayed it to the point that you’ve got companies such as Keystone, they’re looking to do something different.  You’ve got oil companies in Canada, they’re looking to ship their oil up by a different means, maybe send more to the West Coast or more to the East Coast to be sent around the world versus coming to the United States and being refined into gasoline products and other products that come from hydrocarbons here in this country.

And they’re also claiming it would be cheaper to send it to China and let everything be processed over there.

Yeah, and there we go.  There’s some more jobs going to China.  And that’s been result of the policies of this administration.  As much as they want to have the rhetoric about job creation here in this country, they’re killing jobs in this country.