Congressman Cotton, the Republican challenger to incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, received the endorsement Tuesday of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small business advocacy group.
Touting Cotton’s 100% voting record with the NFIB, the group’s state director, Sylvester Smith, said it was a natural endorsement.
“Tom Cotton has consistently supported Arkansas’s small, family businesses,” said Smith. “He listens to what our members have to say, and he’s done everything he can to create an environment where they can succeed.”
The NFIB said Pryor had a lifetime 50% voting record with its membership’s issues.
Cotton also took his message to the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. In a talk with nearly 80 state business leaders at the chamber’s Little Rock headquarters, Cotton centered his early comments on recent EPA regulations that aim to reduce carbon emissions.
“Global warming is not American warming. It’s not Arkansas warming," Cotton said. "If we disadvantage manufacturers here in the United States, what are they going to do? They’re not going to shut down business. They may shut it down here in the United States, but they’re going to send it to other countries like China or India where they have lower pollution controls than we have here. This legislation is going to drive up the cost of doing businesses in the United States.”
State energy companies and regulators are grappling with recently released guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency that mandate a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 2030 from 2005 levels, mainly targeting the nation’s fleet of more than 600 coal-fired plants that currently supplying the lion’s share of the nation’s electricity needs.
Arkansas relies heavily on coal-powered electricity.
Cotton said he was doubtful that the new EPA rules would reduce pollution and he described the federal effort as harmful to business and consumers.
“Higher electricity costs are deeply, deeply hurtful to Arkansas families,” said Cotton. He said that a one sentence amendment could put a halt to the EPA carbon rule, but he had little hope that President Obama or a Democratically-controlled Senate would be willing to act. He said Congress could put the brakes on the President’s executive actions through the “power of the purse,” tying policy actions to spending bills.
“We could easily enough, in a one sentence amendment to the EPA’s funding bill, stop its carbon regulation just by saying that no money will be spent to enforce these regulations,” said Cotton.
The Republican Senate nominee also took aim at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with strong language to highlight recent controversies surrounding the tax agency’s investigation and audit practices. Cotton touted oversight committees that Congress has created to review the IRS scandals.
“We have two committees in the House that are investigating the IRS, which has become an outlaw, renegade agency over the last five years,” said Cotton. “I mean, they target the President’s political enemies and then they destroy the evidence when someone asks them about it.”
Cotton also fielded questions on disaster relief, highway funding, banking, the Farm Bill, immigration reform, and the federal health care law.
An issue of impact for small and large businesses centers on the potential minimum wage hike that is expected to be on the Arkansas ballot in November. Supporters contend they have enough signatures to qualify the measure that would raise the state minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 over the next three years.
Cotton said he is still holding a wait-and-see attitude on the state proposal. He and Pryor both oppose a federal minimum wage hike to $10.10 per hour, but Pryor has come out in support of the state effort.
“We don’t even know what’s going to be on the ballot yet. Signatures haven’t been submitted, signatures haven’t been verified. There will be a time to evaluate that,” Cotton said. “I’m more focused on what can be done in Washington D.C. This is one instance where Mark Pryor and I agree that the minimum wage of ten dollars an hour dictated by Washington D.C. would be bad for Arkansas workers and bad for Arkansas businesses. But what’s equally bad is passing a law like Obamacare, which reduces working hours in America from 40 hours to 30 hours a week or increases taxes on working families. So I’m focused as a candidate for United States Senate on what I can accomplish in Washington for Arkansas families,“ he said.