Arizona’s senior senator stopped by the offices of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry last week. Whenever we get a chance to spend an hour or so talking about the tough issues facing our country with John McCain, it’s always a great reminder of how fortunate we are to call him our senator.
From taxes to the Arab Spring to social networking to the pennant race, Sen. McCain offered up his thoughts on a host of topics. Here’s a look at a few of the senator’s comments.
On taxes, the senator pointed to America’s eye-popping 35 percent corporate tax rate as a major impediment to job growth. The senator proposed a tax holiday that would encourage the companies that are parking billions of dollars overseas to come home again.
Continuing on the theme of tax reform, Sen. McCain reminded us that the last substantive tax overhaul dates back to 1986. It’s time, according to the senator, to make bold changes to the country’s tax code. In addition to lowering tax rates, Sen. McCain advocated for a simpler tax code comprised of fewer tax brackets.
He also lamented the folly of the U.S. government directing tax dollars into specific industries, picking winners and losers, citing the example Solyndra, which got millions of federal dollars only to recently go belly up. It’s one thing, he said, to boost research and development through tax credits, but it’s quite another to spend federal funds to underwrite a specific company.
He did, however, express some optimism about the so-called bipartisan supercommittee that is charged with producing a way forward on debt reduction. His confidence is raised because of Sen. Jon Kyl’s participation on the supercommittee. He expressed his disappointment that Sen. Kyl has said that he won’t seek re-election, but Sen. McCain believes that Sen. Kyl will continue to add his thoughtful voice to the national debate on the critical issues of the day.
Another drag on the economy is regulatory overreach. The senator urged a federal moratorium on new rules and regulations. He also expressed his shock at the job-killing actions of the runaway National Labor Relations Board. Sen. McCain, like most Americans, I’d imagine, said he never imagined that the U.S. government would tell a company – in this case, Boeing – that it couldn’t move its operations to the state of its choice.
Sen. McCain also spoke of the Arab Spring. With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaching this weekend, few would have imagined such upheaval in the Arab world back in 2001. Sen. McCain shared with us what he saw and heard in his recent trip to the Middle East.
The senator, who is just as wired as one of today’s millennials, spoke of the impact of social media on the movement to give Arab dictators their walking papers. He commented that he met a young person on his trip who, in reflecting on the dramatic change overtaking her country, said, “Mark Zuckerberg is my hero.”
When the Arab street is touting the Facebook founder as a revolutionary leader, that shows the groundbreaking power of social media.
Finally, it’s been some years since my days as a sports columnist at Cornell’s newspaper, where my missives earned me the distinction of being voted one of the top 10 most over-rated Cornellians, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t echo the senator’s comments about our hometown Arizona Diamondbacks.
The senator is exactly right in his assessment that the D-Backs are the best story going in sports (and maybe the best baseball story since the 1969 Mets). We didn’t know their names without a program at the beginning of the year, but now they’re gearing up for the playoffs.
There’s plenty going on to be outraged about – a high jobless rate, the debt ceiling debacle and a Washington that is wrapping business in reams of red tape to name just a few – but the real outrage will be if Kirk Gibson doesn’t win the Manager of the Year Award.
Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry