Bill McCollum, the Republican front-runner to replace Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, says President Barack Obama and Congress must reduce taxes, including an extension of the Bush tax cuts, for the U.S. economy, particularly Florida, to recover from severe recession.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, the Florida attorney general said the real solution is Ronald Reagan-style supply-side economics. “This administration is on the wrong track. We need to reduce the capital gains tax.”
See Video Below: Bill McCollum: Obama on ‘Wrong Track’ with Economy
McCollum thinks the tax, now 15 percent, should be abolished. He also thinks Congress should act to extend the Bush tax cuts that are scheduled to expire.
And he wants the corporate tax rate reduced. At 35 percent, “It’s higher than much of the world, and that’s not good for trade or international business,” he said.
McCollum doesn’t think too highly of Obama’s proposal of a tax credit for businesses that hire new workers. “I never thought targeted tax credits were very effective,” McCollum said. “You target something,” and it may improve a bit for the short term.
As for Florida, he says the state must diversify its economy beyond tourism and agriculture.
“As the next governor, I’ll do everything I can to market tourism and agriculture. We need those two industries to be strong,” McCollum said.
“But we need to diversify. We need to bring industry in to create jobs. There are over 1 million unemployed in our state.” Florida’s jobless rate totals 11.8 percent.
So how to diversify?
“First we need to create an economic climate to grow jobs and bring jobs here,” said the 10-term former congressman.
“That’s keeping taxes low, that’s common sense regulations, that’s dramatically improving our public education system, having meaningful and significant litigation reform. And it’s squarely facing three really tough issues: property insurance, property taxes and water.”
Those are the most important areas the state must address to attract more business and jobs to Florida, McCollum maintains.
As for Florida’s economic outlook, McCollum says it’s not out of the woods yet. “We’re still going to have some tough times, because commercial property in particular in Florida over this coming year is under pressure. So our tax base is under pressure.”
Most forecasts call for a flat Florida economy over the next year, he said. “We’re not going to see revenues growing like they did. But transactions for business have pretty well bottomed out, except for commercial real estate.”
McCollum strongly opposes the Democratic healthcare bills in Washington.
“The pressure of the healthcare bills on our state would be tremendous,” he said.
“The focus of healthcare should be on quality, access and affordability. But the proponents of those bills are looking at two things: cost containment and how do we get more people insured,” McCollum explained.
“We all want to get more people insured, but not the mandate they propose, not the government-centered 'Washington knows best' plan.”
McCollum has proposed to other state attorneys general that if the Democrats’ plan passes, they file a lawsuit claiming the requirement that Americans buy insurance is unconstitutional.
“I think it’s unconstitutional in either version: the mandate in the Senate bill for a fine if you don’t buy it and can’t afford it, or the tax in the House version.”
The Democratic bills particularly hurt Florida as far as Medicaid goes, McCollum says. About 27 percent of the state’s budget goes to the health plan for the poor. And both bills would dramatically increase Medicaid rolls, he says.
“There are unfunded mandates on the states that at this point would just be disastrous.”
As Florida’s attorney general, McCollum recently introduced a phone hotline that citizens can call to report official corruption.
“Public corruption is widespread in our state,” said the former Navy officer. “I hope the tip line will lead us to more information from the general public where our investigators can find where people have done wrong.”
Usually it’s some form of bribery, McCollum said.
Tips will go straight to the state prosecutor’s office, which runs the recently empaneled grand jury. “We’ll find out over next few months” how it works, he said.
“I hope that not only do we get a few indictments, but also get a really good report out of the panel that will give us some opportunity for legislation that will make public corruption less likely to occur.”
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