By Jenny White
Stephen Moore, “Wall Street Journal” economic writer, headlined the Illinois Jobs Tour as it stopped on Olivet’s campus to address the economic concerns of Kankakee County residents.
Moore had harsh words for the state of the national government.
“I believe, since the recession hit in 2008, every step taken by Washington has been the wrong thing to do,” he said in the opening of his conversation, “The Illinois Economy: Dead on Arrival.” Audience members applauded their agreement.
Addressing a crowd composed primarily of Tea Party Movement members, Moore and a panel of four other Illinois economic and political figures garnered enthusiasm as they spoke on the national debt problem, which stands around a staggering $14 trillion.
“These numbers are so huge that people cannot comprehend them,” Moore said.
To illustrate an inadequate solution to the debt problem, Moore noted President Obama’s “Millionaire Tax,” announced Sept. 18.
This proposal increases taxes on the wealthy by letting the Bush tax cuts expire.
This tax is also referred to as the “Buffet Rule” after Warren Buffet, an American businessman and investor, who was quoted saying that billionaires have been “coddled” long enough by Congress.
Moore called Buffet a “hypocrite,” and dismissed the millionaire tax proposal as a failure in deficit reduction.
High-income brackets should not be receiving tax increases, as the majority of these people are small business owners, producing 70 percent of all new jobs, according to Moore.
He referred to small business owners as “the backbone of the economy.”
Being an advocate for free enterprise, Moore called it “frightening” that the top 10 percent of earners are paying 67 percent of the income tax, and found it equally frightening that 45 percent of Americans who filled out tax forms actually did not pay anything.
“The problem with non-tax payers is that government becomes free to them, and they expect more from the government for nothing,” Moore said.
As a solution, Moore proposed a flat tax rate of 18 percent for everyone, with no special interest and no deductions. By a show of hands, over half the audience supported his proposal.
Another solution he proposed, which gained about a quarter of the audience’s approval, was the fair tax proposal to abolish income and federal tax all together and add 20 percent to the national sales tax.
When Moore asked the audience if anyone was in support of the tax system as it is, no one responded.
Four other panelists spoke after Moore on different effects of the Illinois economic situation.
Addressing the problem of creating new jobs was Bruce Rauner, the Principal of GTCR, LLC, a Chicago-based private equity firm.
Rauner called the state of Illinois “hostile to business,” and claimed the fundamental problem is that businesses are viewed as a “piggy bank to be broken into and taken from.”
Panelist Marc Levine, a budget and pension expert, spoke on the topic of the national pension problem.
Levine claimed the source of the pension problem is that salaries in Illinois are too high. His proposal was to eliminate the pension system entirely.
The final panelist speaker, Kristina Rasmussen, Executive Vice President of the Illinois Policy Institute, denounced Governor Pat Quinn’s income tax hike.
In an average American’s workday at an average salary, about 60 minutes of money earned goes toward taxes, and this, she claims, is enough.
Rasmussen proposed a repeal to the tax hike and urged the audience to vote in support of the repeal.
In conclusion to the panelists’ speeches, Stephen Moore was re-introduced for final statements.
Moore called the 2009 stimulus package a “failure,” as national unemployment rates were 7.8 percent before the stimulus passed and are currently 9.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The United States has been the richest in the past because of free enterprise,” Moore concluded. “Once we reform this system, we will see the biggest economic boom in American history.”