Schock Talks Trade and Tax Reform in Speech to Ripon Society

Also compares upcoming vote on debt limit to TARP, saying it will be “one of the toughest votes that any Member of Congress is going to have to take”

WASHINGTON, DC – Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock delivered a speech to a luncheon meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday afternoon in which he talked about the free trade agreements currently pending on Capitol Hill and the importance of reforming the tax code as well. In his remarks, Schock also discussed the upcoming vote to raise the debt limit, calling it not only “one of the toughest votes that any Member of Congress is going to have to take,” but one that some are saying will be even “more difficult” than the TARP vote Members cast – and, in some cases, have been castigated for — in 2008.

“I come from a district that is one of the 60 districts left in this country which is ag dominant,” Schock stated. “And there is no industry in this country that benefits greater than agriculture from strong and vibrant trade throughout the world. There are important facts that often times people are not aware of, and that is that every country with which we have a Free Trade Agreement we also have a dramatic trade surplus. We only lose to those countries with which we do not have free trade, and to those countries with which are not really on a level playing field with us. I further suggest that it takes quite a defeatist mentality to believe that American ingenuity and competiveness cannot outperform those in the foreign markets. If you believe in America’s work ethic and ingenuity, then you would believe that we need to get a Free Trade Agreement with as many countries as possible.

“Only 5% of the world’s population lives in our country. It only makes sense that we sell to the other 95% of the world. In 2001, 60% of Colombian wheat that was consumed was American wheat. Today, just under 20% of the wheat that Colombians consume is American wheat. Now, whose wheat are they buying? Well, they’re buying Canada’s, because Canada has moved quicker than us and has entered into a very effective trade agreement. And they’re now beating us at our own game of competition on the world market. So, for so many reasons, it makes sense for us to make haste to pass these trade agreements, and — as the President says — to try and double exports in the coming years. You’ve got to have more trade agreements in order to do it. I’m optimistic that’s going to happen.

“The sticking point is going to be on TAA. One of the reasons Republicans are so adamant about trying to fight the attempt to attach TAA to trade agreements, politics aside, is that it violates the fast track law which allows these trade bills to come to the floor for an up and down vote. So whether you agree with TAA or not, if you want them to be fast-tracked in an up or down vote, you simply have to oppose these attempts to put non-germane language attached to the trade agreement bills. I happen to be a proponent of TAA. I think the majority of the Republican Conference is — although there is some discussion among the more conservative flank of our party that do not believe that we should be providing this type of assistance. So I think that for a number of reasons, leadership agrees that it’s important for a straight up or down vote on TAA, and I anticipate that that’s what’s going to happen.”

Schock, who is serving his second term in the House of Representatives and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, also discussed the current debate over reforming the tax code and the fact that more and more individuals and interests are in agreement that the Nation’s tax system needs to be replaced.

“It’s been very interesting to me to see the convergence of business, labor, and Wall Street all come together and say, ‘Look, we are willing to take our credits and throw them out the window in exchange for a lower overall rate,’” the Illinois Republican stated. “For a manufacturer in my hometown to say, ‘We’re willing to give up the research and development tax credit’ — which is very, very important to them — in exchange for an overall rate reduction, I think speaks volumes. What it’s going to require is that all of us put our sacred cows on the table. I have not been shy about going back to my home district every weekend and explaining what this means to my constituents. Because, of course, everybody wants less government, just not their government.”

Referring to the legislation he has introduced with North Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem to phase out ethanol subsidies, Schock observed: “I’m optimistic that we can get a deal on that, because every vote we’ve had on the issue of ethanol in this Congress we’ve lost. So you can either come to the negotiating table in good faith and try and negotiate something to phase it out, or you’re probably going to lose. If we are going to have a simplified tax code, it’s going to require some of these sacred cows to meet their maker. Hopefully, it will make America more competitive on a global scale.”

Schock concluded his remarks by discussing one of the most contentious issues now before Congress – raising the debt limit.

“This I think will be one of the toughest votes that any Member of Congress is going to have to take in the coming weeks,” Schock said. “I was not here for TARP. I was a candidate for office when that was being debated and ultimately voted on. I will tell you from talking to my colleagues who were here for that vote, they’re suggesting to me that this is even more difficult than TARP. So all I would say is watch, wait, and we’ll all learn, because I went to the conference this morning, and I’m not any more confident that there’s a deal yet.

“I think it is very politically difficult for many members of the conference — especially on our side of the aisle — to vote for the debt limit increase. So understanding the political realities that we are in — that we control one-half of one-third of the government — is something that unfortunately most of our constituents do not recognize. I will tell you that when I go home, there is a great expectation and anticipation that I should be able to get done what they sent me there for, and that we won in November. Well, we won one-half of one-third of the government, And I try to drill that in at every Rotary, Kiwanis, and town hall that I’m in. Because people don’t quite understand that there are split powers here — that nobody is going to get everything that they want.

“In light of that, any deal that does not have a Balanced Budget Amendment, a change in entitlement spending which basically will end that curve for the long term and show that we can start putting ourselves on a path towards balancing the budget, and immediate cuts … without that it’s going to be very, very difficult for members on our side to step up and cast that tough vote. I do not envy the Speaker in his role to come into the conference when he feels he’s got a deal and try to sell it, because I think it’s going to be a tough, tough thing to do.

“At the end of the day, I think that most of us at the Conference are prepared to do the right thing no matter how unpopular it might be. But we have to be able to go home and sell it to our constituents and explain it.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.