Quad-City Times: Grassley, Blum see deregulation, tax cuts as keys to economic growth

LISBON, Iowa — “Two Iowa Republican members of Congress voiced support Friday for extending or making permanent a tax credit that encourages short-line railroads to invest in infrastructure and safety improvements that create jobs in the transportation and manufacturing industries.

‘I was chairman of the Finance Committee when this was approved, so obviously I want to see it continue,’ Sen. Chuck Grassley told about two dozen people during a visit to the HiRail plant, which manufactures railroad grade crossing surfaces from recycled rubber material.

The tax credit is a priority for Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association, which represents companies like HiRail that manufacture railroad maintenance equipment, products and services, according to Jacob Carter, the association’s government affairs manager. It has 56 sponsors in the Senate and 262 in the House.

Denny Miller of Iowa Interstate Railroad explained that short lines get a 50 percent tax credit of up to $3,500 a mile.

Unlike highways that are heavily subsidized, ‘railroads own the property and bear the cost of maintaining it,’ Miller said.

The 10-year-old tax credit, he said, was a ‘real turnaround’ for railroad investment in their tracks and bridges.

The improvements, such as a $14 million bridge replacement on Iowa Interstate’s line near Des Moines, allow short lines to carry heavier freight faster and more safely, Miller said.

With railroads carrying more volatile freight, such as ethanol, the improvements take on added importance.

Extending the tax credit or, better yet, making it permanent, would remove uncertainty for short lines that want to invest in upgrades, 1st District Rep. Rod Blum told the HiRail employees and community members.

It would be consistent with what congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump are trying to do to grow the economy, he said.

‘It’s not rocket science. Reduce regulations. Reduce the corporate tax. Get the government out of your pocket and off your back and the economy will grow,’ said Blum, who is in a tight race for re-election in the 1st Congressional District. ‘Uncertainty is the biggest enemy of expansion.’ […]”

Author: James Q. Lynch

Full article here.