Friday, June 7, 2013

Rep. Salmon touches on health care, taxes, and trade

The Arizona Chamber this morning hosted a great discussion with Rep. Matt Salmon as part of our regular Eggs and Issues breakfast series. As someone who has worked for him on two occasions, it’s great to see Rep. Salmon back representing Arizona in Washington. His comments this morning reminded us how fortunate we in the business community are to have someone with Rep. Salmon’s insight into issues foreign and domestic working for us.

On health care

Like most Americans, Salmon is extremely skeptical of the federal government’s ability to implement the Affordable Care Act.  Doubts surrounding the health care law aren’t constrained to one political party, as the congressman reminded us of Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ characterization of the nearing implementation of the law as a “train wreck.” Rep. Salmon shared with the audience that several of his colleagues on the other side of the aisle have expressed their concern to him that the law could prove harmful to them politically.

On the chances for a deal on taxes

Rep. Salmon said that all of the Maalox moments over the Affordable Care Act’s implementation could actually lead to a deal on tax reform of all things. The congressman is hopeful that the president, looking for a win, could be ready to negotiate on a big tax package that would mark the first significant tax reform since 1986. He said he’s looking forward to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp introducing tax overhaul language soon.

On trade

A committed free trader, the congressman - who in his first stint in the U.S. House was Congress’ only Mandarin speaker and who was a staunch advocate of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China – made the case that engagement with China through trade presents us a great opportunity to influence reforms in that country.

Rep. Salmon is also chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. He called for the adoption of a free trade agreement with Brazil, and spoke to growth opportunities for Arizona as Mexico continues to be seen as a more attractive location for foreign investment versus Asia, where rising wages and concerns over intellectual property protections and rising labor and transportation costs have caused manufacturers to look closer to home.

On the Arizona delegation

Rep. Salmon returned to Capitol Hill after a 12 year absence that he described as “nastier,” and lamented the lack of inter-delegation communication among Arizona’s representatives. He spoke of his re-launch of regular delegation breakfasts and said he was encouraged by our representatives’ cohesion on issues of importance to the state like unmanned aerial systems and the EPA’s regulatory overreach in places like the Navajo Generating Station.

I’d like to thank Rep. Salmon for taking time out of his busy schedule to address this morning’s crowd. His remarks were timely, astute, and well received. With his unique wit and balanced perspective, Rep. Salmon’s return has proven to be a great addition to Arizona’s delegation.