How do we get out of this economic mess?

By: Ray Keating

Where there is a challenge, there lies an opportunity.

It’s no secret our economy has seen better days and has been submerged into a multitude of steep challenges — from unemployment to an ever-increasing debt.

However, through the choking weeds of high taxes and needless regulations, an opportunity is presented — and needed — for policy changes.

An overhaul of the U.S. tax code is needed now more than ever, and shortsighted proposals that would increase taxes on industries like oil and gas production should be abandoned to prevent long-term risks to U.S. competitiveness, economic growth and American jobs. Any deductions should be eliminated across all industries, and moving to a territorial tax system emerges as the smartest path forward.

Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia has gone on the record in support policies to aid in job-creation and lower taxes, as well as being in favor of reducing frivolous Environmental Protection Agency regulations that hurt the U.S. energy sector.

McDonnell has urged Congress to stop harmful EPA regulations and has said the EPA is not equipped to consider the very real potential for economic harm when regulating emissions. Unnecessary regulations and taxes have been very costly to the U.S. economy and have resulted in the loss of countless jobs.

* * * * *A new approach is needed, and the U.S. economy cannot afford to have leaders who are unwilling to cultivate an environment for reduced taxes. Lower taxes result in increased entrepreneurship, innovation and investment, and job growth. Leaders like McDonnell should be applauded in their efforts to enact policies that promote risk-taking — and policies that discourage higher taxes and increased regulations.

Forcing energy companies to pay governments around the world more in taxes means less dollars for investment in the development of American jobs and U.S. resources.

A study by economist Mark Perry shows that for every dollar in profit that ExxonMobil earns for its shareholders, the company earns nearly three dollars for governments. In other words, ExxonMobil pays more in taxes than it earns. Our current policies discourage economic growth and success for our nation’s energy firms.

Following the example of Gov. McDonnell’s opposition to higher taxes, it is time to re-examine how the U.S. can be a better steward of not only the resources it has, but also its government finances. Quite simply, high taxes leads to an economy in trouble. The U.S. has seen enough economic trouble, and now is the time to put a halt to the crippling measures discouraging economic growth in our country.


Raymond J. Keating serves as chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

Run in the Richmond Times Dispatch: