LAKE PLACID — Candidates for Congress are locked in a teetering race to represent District 20.
A Siena Research Institute poll released this week indicated that GOP newcomer Chris Gibson moved nine points ahead of Democratic incumbent Scott Murphy in the final lap. Murphy won the seat held by now Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a 2009 special election.
With days to go before the Nov. 2 polls, Murphy and Gibson agreed clearly that the state of the American economy is what people are most concerned about in this election.
The two agree that small business is the engine for economic growth.
But each charted a different course of action for restarting a stalled economy in steps they believe can be achieved over the next two-year term in Congress.
A business entrepreneur with a background in finance, Murphy sees the fulcrum for growth economics shifted too far overseas.
"One of the first steps is to change our tax policy to make it a little easier to invest here and a little harder to ship jobs overseas," Murphy said in an interview with the Press-Republican.
"We do that by lowering our corporate tax rates here.
"We have a policy in force right now that says if a company goes to an overseas tax haven, they can pay no taxes at all, unless they bring their profits to the U.S. So, they leave the money over there, which makes it a lot easier to build overseas. I want to change that."
U.S. companies pay a 41-percent tax rate for building on American soil, while an affiliate or competitor overseas pays often no tax.
"I would lower that 4-percent rate for building in the U.S. down to the low 20s, and raise it if you go overseas to match. That way, we're just competing. Right now we're running uphill. Companies I've talked with say this is the most important factor working against economic growth, and every time they look to create a new product, they do the research, only to find costs to do business elsewhere are so much cheaper. We have to make it fair."
Murphy's course toward economic stability would expand Small Business Association (SBA) loan programs.
"We need to make sure there is capital available for our small business to grow," the Democratic incumbent said.
"We do that at the federal level pretty well through the SBA loan program. But we have to expand that to the local areas, with federal guarantees building good public/private partnerships.
"I would make it so loans could be a little bit bigger and easier to obtain, and the fees lower.
"I think we also need to provide regulatory relief to our businesses and would repeal the 1099 Provision, which is a regulation requiring businesses to report a lot of information to the IRS. It would make less paperwork for small business."
Gibson views the current economic crisis as symptomatic of a hostile business environment at home.
"We have to recognize we have a hostile and uncertain environment for growth," he said in an interview this week.
"I've talked to many small-business owners throughout our district who say they're not growing this year for three reasons: high taxes, onerous regulations and spiraling health-care costs. We won't create jobs from D.C., but we can change the environment so it becomes facilitating."
Gibson offers a five-point strategy for changing economic course.
"These are the impediments to growth that, once removed, will empower business owners to expand, buy equipment, hire new workers," Gibson said, warning that America was in the same situation at the onset of the Great Depression.
"We have to extend tax cuts for everyone — now is not the time to raise taxes," he said of point one.
Point two is to achieve Alternative Minimum Tax Reform in the next two years alongside his third strategic move to enact the Reins-In Act.
"The Reins-In Act says anytime a bureaucratic agency enacts a new regulation where there is an estimated $100 million or greater impact on the economy, it's got to go to Congress for an up-or-down vote."
The fourth point, he said, is to repeal and replace the health-care reform bill, working with the president to craft something that supports small business.
"This impacts our small businesses to the point it is stifling job creation," Gibson said.
"We need to replace health-care reform with a measure to allow access to insurance companies across state lines and then enact tort reform in two parts: to place a cap on non-economic damages to provide stability to malpractice systems and also to screen out frivolous lawsuits. States that have implemented tort reform have started to drive down health-care costs."
Gibson's fifth point concerns the Farm Bill of 2012.
"We need to prepare regionally for this measure, which will provide better price discovery. We also need regulatory reform for farmers and a level playing field for agriculture vis-a-vis competitors from overseas."
E-mail Kim Smith Dedam at: email@example.com