Dold Talks Job Creation At Town Hall
Dold, Residents agree on importance of jobs but split on how To get there.
Those two words came from the more than 70 constituents who attended Rep. Robert Dold’s (R-Kenilworth) Town Hall meeting Satruday at the Gorton Center in Lake Forest.
Where the harmony broke down was how to achieve the goal. Dold stressed the government's role in removing the uncertainty business owners have about the economy to generate production and job growth.
Dold said the nation has 29 million small businesses — defined as a company employing less than 500 people — and wants a situation where just half can create one new job.
“That’s going to require that we create an environment where there’s more certainty,” Dold said. “What is the tax code going to look like? What are some of the regulations out there that will affect business? In an uncertain environment people will withdraw.”
A jobs deficit
Dold then painted a less than rosy picture of the state of employment in the country and within the confines of the 10th Congressional District. He talked about the federal budget deficit as only one of the shortfalls the nation is facing today.
“We’ve got a jobs deficit that’s out there right now,” Dold said. “The unemployment rate today is 9.1 percent nationally. Locally it’s more significant than that in certain areas of the 10th District.”
He explained the number is higher when those who have stopped looking for work or are underemployed are taken into account. “It’s really closer to 17.5 percent,” he said. He also reported unemployment among recent college graduates in the area is 25 percent.
Lake Bluff resident Brian Harrington said he would like to see the government create jobs with a New Deal style of legislation.
“Why shouldn’t the government be the employer of last resort when everything we’ve tried, including drastic tax cuts, haven’t worked,” Harrington said. “You don’t see jobs because there are no customers. People are not coming in the door.”
Dold rejected that idea because he does not believe the government is a good employer for job growth.
“Businesses are in a wait-and-see mode and we have to get them out of that," Dold said. "We need to get them to invest back in their business”
Highland Park resident Donald Lutz said he wants to see a tax on goods imported from China to make them more competitive with American products. William Avellone, an industrialist from Lake Bluff, contended that tax will make it harder for him to employ people in the U.S.
“I would put a tax on goods coming into this country,” Lutz said. “Germany is doing it. Why doesn’t the United States do it?”
Before Dold could respond, Avellone argued such a tax would increase the price of raw materials he buys from overseas and make it harder for him to compete and hire local workers.
“I buy materials internationally,” Avellone said. “Raising duties on imports will force me to move my business and set up operation in Mexico. Most of the growth U.S. business is going to have is participating in the world economy.”
His remarks were greeted with loud applause.
Government regulated gas
Participants also voiced concerns about the debt ceiling, energy policy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a host of other issues.
Though Dold has often spoken out against excessive government regulation, before anyone could ask about gasoline prices he suggested controls that would help stabilize the price at the pump. Dold expressed fears that if the blend used in the Chicagoland area were in short supply, $6 per gallon was possible.
“We need regulation. We need smart regulation. There are 17 different blends (of gasoline) throughout the country,” Dold said. "We ought to pick the best blend and make plenty of that blend so we have access to it.”
One area where Dold believes the government must stimulate job growth is home grown energy. He sees that as a necessary growth industry of the future.
“We want to be energy independent. We want to wean ourselves from foreign oil if possible,” he said.
Lake Bluff resident Jim Cullen said the reasons for the increased spending in Washington were a combination of the Bush era tax cuts along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Are you ready for us to stop being the world’s policeman?” Cullen asked.
Dold stressed America’s security was a priority and tied to the economic climate.
“I don’t know if the world is ready for America to stop being the world’s policeman or if America is ready to stop being the world’s policeman,” Dold said.
Several people asked about the need to increase the country’s debt ceiling. Dold wants to see fiscal maturity before that happens, adding the U.S. must pay its debts and maintain its AAA bond rating.
“If a family is sitting around the dinner table and the teenager has maxed out the credit card, the answer is not just increasing the limit,” Dold said. “There have to be some limits.”