By Bill Fishburne, Tribune Founding Editor- John McNabb, a Biltmore Forest resident, a former Duke Football All American, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran with two flying tours in Vietnam and most recently the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of an international energy company, is a plain-spoken man with little tolerance for some of today’s politicians. Yet tolerating them is sometimes the position he finds himself in as he travels the country and speaks in support of a revamped U.S. tax code or as President Trump speaks of it, a “tax reform” to kick start the U.S. economy, put people back to work and allow our U.S. companies to compete, flourish, reinvest, and create good paying jobs.
In 2016, McNabb’s friend, colleague, and Horatio Alger Award winner Harold Hamm asked John to co-found an entity to assist candidate Trump, which became The Trump Leadership Council, (“TLC).” The TLC was comprised of approximately fifty of the country’s top conservative business leaders, economists, defense complex and trade experts. At Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 a meeting of the TLC occurred and was co-chaired by Messrs. Harold Hamm and McNabb with Candidate Trump which was unprecedented. The TLC members provided input and advice on the state of the American economy. For a candidate for the American Presidency to sit down, to listen to, and to ask great questions with that high-level group was impressive. The magnitude of that TLC meeting in Trump Tower certainly didn’t happen during the Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns. They both surrounded themselves with political operatives since neither one ever held a real job during their prior careers
“I have met and worked with many of our top politicians,” McNabb told the Tribune in an exclusive interview. “These are leaders in the Senate and in the House and the Administration. We are expressing to them what America needs relative to tax reform. I’m telling them what they need to do to the tax code. I’m telling them what I’ve seen driving through Mexico on the road from Leon to San Miguel, where you see hundreds of business and industrial parks and new, modern buildings. It is amazing what Mexico has done since NAFTA, and I congratulate them. But it is U.S. tax policy that has made this growth possible, and to some extent it has been at our expense.
What also amazed McNabb is that Donald Trump could come along and point out the obvious flaws in American tax policy and be criticized for it. “The media is so biased in their reporting that the President’s message is nearly lost. It’s hard for him to get through to the public using conventional media. Every Senator and House member who votes against the upcoming tax reform is voting against all Americans, their jobs and the economy.”
Elaborating on the subject of corporations moving operations overseas, McNabb says, “Our tax policy punishes corporations for maintaining operations and headquarters in the U.S. Ireland, for example, has become the new place-to-be for companies world-wide. Their corporate taxes are the lowest in the European Union. I talk with Irish business leaders and they say the EU is upset with them (Ireland) because their taxes are too low.”
“I’m in favor of keeping the upper tax bracket the same,” McNabb says. Currently 20% of Americans pay approximately 90% of the total tax burden. “The ALC is with me on that and I have spoken with many people who support this, including economist Larry Kudlow, Steven Moore, Art Laffer, and publisher Steven Forbes. We firmly believe the House will pass the President’s budget this Thursday (it did) and it will go to reconciliation. Kevin Brady, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, will introduce the tax reform bill Oct. 30.”
McNabb is fairly certain a good tax reform bill will result from the process.
“How could a Republican face their constituency if they can’t pass a simple tax reform?” he asks. In his mind it’s obviously a rhetorical question. Tax reform is the primary reason most Republicans were elected to Congress in the past two elections. The answer is obviously that they can’t face their constituents with a straight face if they vote it down.
McNabb points out that key Senators including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a moderate Democrat, have to face the voters again in 2018. Manchin won by 60% in his 2012 election but possibly faces stiff opposition in 2018 as a Republican Super PAC has been formed to support state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Since his last campaign the state has also shifted from heavily Democrat to heavily Republican, including the current West Virginia Governor who just switched to the Republican side. Thus, Manchin is leaning more and more conservative in advance of an election he could well lose if he opposes Trump and votes against tax reform. And there are many other Senate seats to be contested in 2018. Tax reform will play a leading role.
The American Leadership Council was formed after the election, and McNabb is Vice Chair of that organization. It was formed to promote President Trump’s policies and stand up in the face of obvious and destructive media bias. “The immorality if these media attacks is unprecedented and certainly not in keeping with our American tradition of civil discourse”.
He expresses amazement that under Obama, who said his economic growth was slowed because the nation was in such dire straits at the end of the Bush years, couldn’t get the nation’s economic growth up to 3% during his entire eight-year term, with the bar set so low.
“That’s an amazing fact,” McNabb Says. “How can you start so low and fail to make even a 3% growth rate? Wouldn’t it be harder if the economy were booming?
“The tax package is critical. Think about small companies. They’re going to use tax savings to reinvest in their business and continue to hire. And big companies right now can’t reinvest because their taxes are too high. We need to put more income back in the entrepreneur’s pocket to reinvest in their business. We don’t need a tax break for the rich, and that definitely isn’t included in Trump’s plan. But that’s all the Democrats talk about. ‘Tax break for the rich, tax break for the rich.’ That’s their mantra, their narrative. The media repeats it, and I think we’re all tired of hearing it. Naturally liberals and the media enjoy forgetting that Democrat President John Kennedy in 1963 fought for large tax cuts for individuals and corporations, arguing with his famous quote that, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” President Reagan said repeatedly that his own tax cuts were taken from the Kennedy model. The tax cuts implemented by both Presidents were very successful. The growth rate for 8 years after 1964 averaged just over 5% a year. Facts do matter.
“The key thing to economic growth, and I hope everyone realizes this, is getting that tax relief to corporations and the middle tax brackets. If you look at Wall Street right now, you’ll see that earnings are high. Let that money go back into the economy, not into more government and more giveaways. If Trump is successful in cutting the tax rate in these areas, it will kick start the economy.”