Democratic congressional candidate John Callahan outlines economic platform in Bethlehem
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
By LYNN OLANOFF
Democratic congressional candidate John Callahan on Tuesday unveiled his economic platform, which calls for closing tax loopholes for companies that outsource jobs to pay for greater job training and hiring incentives for small businesses.
Callahan's five-point plan includes reducing rules that hamper small businesses and freezing most federal spending.
Callahan made his announcement outside of Originate Ventures, a Bethlehem venture capital investment firm Callahan touted as one of his many successes in job creation in the six-plus years he's been the city's mayor. If elected, he said, he will bring his financial success in Bethlehem to Washington, D.C.
Incentives are key to job creation for small businesses, which create two out of every three jobs in America, Callahan said. His plan would remove fees for starting a business, allow small businesses to defer taxes in their first year and expand tax credits to hire new employees.
Better education also is important in job creation. The unemployment rate for people without a college degree is twice that of those with one, Callahan said. He proposes increasing college loans, training workers for 21st century jobs and adding more scholarships for people looking to become math or science teachers.
To pay for these programs, Callahan said, he would close tax loopholes for companies that outsource jobs or have out-of-country headquarters to avoid having to pay their "fair share" of taxes. His campaign manager, Justin Schall, said he didn't have exact estimates on how much money this would free up, but a recent New York Times article found closing the loophole on businesses with out-of-country headquarters would generate $37 billion.
"I think we can both fund these programs and cut the deficit," Schall said.
Also to cut the deficit, Callahan said, he would oppose any more bank bailouts, support pay-as-you-go rules and freeze all federal spending not for defense, Social Security, veterans affairs and Medicaid and Medicare.
Callahan also highlighted his Continuous Improvement program, which streamlined the process for small-business permits and saved $10 million for the city of Bethlehem. Callahan also took credit for creating 5,000 jobs in Bethlehem but couldn't cite a total for jobs created and lost since he became mayor in 2004.
Callahan touted a record of six balanced budgets, but his Republican opponent, Rep. Charlie Dent, disputed that, citing a recent city audit that found budget deficits totaling $8.5 million from 2008 and 2009. Dent also called Callahan's plan for tax loopholes a tax increase.
"None of John Callahan's tax increases will create jobs," Dent said in a statement. "My plan on jobs is to support small businesses by keeping the federal government out of their pocket and off their backs."
The independent candidate in the race, Jake Towne, also said he didn't think Callahan's economic plan would reverse the recession.
"The chances of Callahan's 'five points' generating prosperity is as likely as sailing through Bethlehem's horrendous Five Points intersection during rush hour," Towne said in a statement. "The common sense solution to unemployment is simply to fix the tax, labor and regulatory laws that discourage employment in the first place."
Reporter Lynn Olanoff can be reached at 610-867-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk about issues in your town at lehighvalleylive.com/forums.