U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins toured one of Lawrence's largest employers Monday, saying the experience will inform her in the future as Congress debates changes to the tax code.
"They require a lot of investment in a business like this, whether it's in … equipment or additional workforce hiring," Jenkins said outside Berry Plastics, 2330 Packer Road. "There are some key provisions in the tax code that would have a direct impact on them. … The 'carried interest' provision to encourage investment is of particular concern to these individuals."
The "carried interest" provision allows investors to have their profits taxed at the capital gains rate of 20 percent rather the income tax rate of 39.6 percent.
In an interview after the tour, Jenkins, a Topeka Republican whose district includes Lawrence, also discussed the recent rollout of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which has been hurt by technical glitches with the website and news of Americans being dropped from their health care plans.
"I'm most disturbed by the lack of truthfulness in some of the statements that were used to sell it to Congress and the American people: 'Your premiums will go down by $2,500.' 'If you like your doctor, you can keep him.' 'If you like your health plan, you can keep it,'" she said. "Now we know that was not true and many in the White House knew it was not true when they spoke those words."
Jenkins and some other House Republicans last month refused to fund the government unless President Barack Obama rolled back parts of the 2010 health care law, leading to a 16-day shutdown that Standard & Poor's estimated cost the U.S. economy $24 billion. Asked if she regretted that strategy given the controversies surrounding the law's introduction, Jenkins said: "I'm not sure anyone predicted what an unmitigated disaster the rollout would be."
In repeating one of House Republicans' original demands, Jenkins said Monday she wants the president to delay by a year the mandate that most Americans carry some form of health insurance, as he did with the requirement that companies with 50 or more employees offer their workers health insurance.
"No one won with the government shutdown," Jenkins said. "The goal was to provide fairness to all, and unfortunately the president was unwilling to provide my constituents with the same benefit he gave big businesses, so that's where we ended up."
Jenkins said recent reductions in food stamp benefits were a result of provisions of the 2009 stimulus expiring and that she still supports additional reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
"It would simply sync up the work requirements that we have for cash welfare with those required for food stamps: If you're able-bodied, to look for a job. If you can't find a job, look for volunteer opportunities, extend your education," she said. "I think that preserves the money that has been appropriated to the people who need it."
Jenkins added that the recently passed Water Resources Development Act, which funds water-related building projects, will benefit the Lawrence and Topeka areas. "Because our infrastructure is aging," she said.