The president says his plan will cut the payroll tax in half to 3.1 percent for employers on the first $5 million in wages, providing broad tax relief to all businesses but targeting it to the 98 percent of firms with wages below that level. In Ohio, 200,000 firms will, according to the president’s proposal, receive a payroll tax cut.
The Act also proposes a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools.
Most political leaders in Ohio are hoping the president will take the opportunity to announce the authorization of the Department of Energy to issue the $2 billion loan guarantee to USEC Inc. to complete the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon. The company first applied for the loan guarantee three years ago, and since then, Ohio’s local, state and federal politicians have urged the president to make it possible.
Portsmouth businessman Jeff Albrecht, operator of the Holiday Inn, hosted the president in 2008 while then-Sen. Obama was on the campaign trail. Albrecht said Obama told him he would support the loan guarantee. He has since been quiet about the request.
“He promised,” Albrecht said Monday afternoon. “The story is all about jobs and what better way to help our job situation than to save 1,150 jobs and create 4,000 jobs in a region of Ohio that desperately needs jobs, and 8,000 jobs nationwide.”
Last week, during a speech before a joint session of Congress, U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt again reminded Obama of the need for the loan. She used the opportunity to deliver a letter to him that had been hand-carried to Washington by Albrecht and several other area businessmen.
“I think it’s part of my job to make sure that the issues and concerns of the folks in my district are heard and addressed, and we can move forward and get some results,” Schmidt said following the speech.
Gov. John Kasich has continued to hammer home the need for the loan guarantee with his latest move being a letter to the president.
“As you are developing your jobs plan, I remind you of a project in Ohio that stands ready to create thousands of jobs within months of your approval,” Kasich said. “The American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon is an advanced uranium enrichment facility that holds great promise for economic development and job creation in southern Ohio. I understand the project is in the final stages of consideration. It should be approved immediately.“
The ACP is also expected to be a topic of discussion on Sept. 19 when U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown meets with John Welch, president and CEO of USEC Inc.
Vice President of Communications for USEC Inc. Paul Jacobson said his company is not speculating that an announcement will be forthcoming during the visit.
“We haven’t heard anything,” Jacobson said. “For us it’s just an ongoing act of discussions with our strategic investors (Babcock & Wilcox and Toshiba) and the Energy Department to address the issues that were raised back in early August with our quarterly financials. That’s the only activity going on here right now. We obviously still have a sense of urgency in terms of wanting to have resolution to our application. The folks at the Department of Energy know that, too. So we’re just continuing to work with everybody as hard as we can to try and get us to a point where we can move forward.”
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or firstname.lastname@example.org.