Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Senate candidate Scott Howell unveiled his plan Wednesday to get the economy moving again and put Utahns back to work.
"We need fresh, new leadership with bold ideas and a new approach to get more people back to work with quality jobs and restored dignity in the lives of our Utahns," Howell said on the steps of the state Capitol. He noted that 82,000 residents are homeless and one in seven has difficulty obtaining food.
The former Democratic state senator said the greatest threat to the economy is gridlock in Washington. "When last year S&P downgraded America’s credit rating for the first time in history, they blamed it on the gridlock and ‘political brinksmanship,’” he said.
Howell is challenging six-term Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Hatch said he's doing everything he can as a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee to protect the economy by extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for all Americans through 2013.
"The reality is that if we fail to take this action, in about five months almost every single American taxpayer will be hit with the largest tax increase in history," he said in a speech to the banking industry last month. "The fact that small-business owners will face a top marginal tax rate hike of 17 percent represents a real threat to our economic recovery and job growth."
Instead of playing political brinksmanship, he said Congress needs to act now on expiring tax policy "so that we have the time to effectively reform our tax code to get our country back on track."
"The bottom line is that when it comes to tax reform, and the looming tax increases, the economy is not going to take no for an answer," he said.
Also, Hatch said, should he become Finance Committee chairman, he would be able set a pro-growth, pro-job creation agenda and cut federal spending.
Utah, he said, will be able to show the country that lower taxes bring more jobs.
Howell, a former IBM executive, said he is offering his private sector expertise and ability to reach across the political aisle to get the economy working for Utahns.
"My experience is not creating debt but my experience is creating jobs," he said.
The key to getting the economy back on track is jump-starting job creation, attacking the deficit and capitalizing on efficiencies through technology, Howell said. His blueprint contains five things he says Congress can do immediately:
• Enhance small businesses' access to credit.
• Cut taxes for small businesses.
• End tax breaks for outsourcing jobs.
• Reform unfair trade deals.
• Invest in American infrastructure.
Howell said he also has a plan to cut the federal deficit by $2.3 trillion. It includes better utilizing technology, expiring tax cuts over $500,000, strengthening Medicare and eliminating waste and cutting discretionary spending.
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