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PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ANSWER IFA QUESTIONS

For immediate release
Contact: Alisa Harrison, 202-628-8000

Nominees Provide Insights to Key Franchise Business Issues

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 1, 2008— In an exclusive to Franchising World, Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have outlined their views on issues important to the franchise industry, the International Franchise Association (IFA) announced today.

The full text of the answers to questions submitted this summer will appear in the October issue of Franchising World, IFA’s monthly magazine and is accessible via www.franchise.org beginning today.  The October issue also marks the debut of the digital version of the magazine, making it more accessible to IFA members and others interested in franchising.

“This is a critical election for our country,” said IFA President & CEO Matthew Shay.  “It is important that the franchise community know where the candidates stand on key issues important to the industry.  We are pleased that both campaigns participated in this important exchange of information so that our members can make informed choices in November.”

Selected excerpts from the Franchising World article are below.

On ensuring that franchised businesses thrive:

McCain: “It is a terrible mistake to raise taxes during an economic downturn.  Under my [tax] plan, we will preserve the current low rates as they are, so businesses large and small can hire more people.  We will double the personal dependent exemption from $3,500 to $7,000 for American families.  We will offer every individual and family a large tax credit to buy their health care, so that their health insurance is theirs to keep even when they move or change jobs.  And we will lower the business tax rate, so American companies open new   manufacturing plants and create more jobs in this country, instead of going overseas to flee the second-highest tax rate in the world.”

Obama: “I recognize that small businesses are an essential ingredient to economic growth and United States productivity.  I will ensure that small businesses continue to thrive through several policy mechanisms.  I will help small businesses raise capital by exempting investments in small and start-up businesses from all capital-gains taxes. I will cut taxes for corporations that create jobs in America.  I will provide a $500 “Making Work Pay” tax credit to almost every worker in America, which benefits self-employed small-business owners in particular who otherwise pay both the employee and the employer side of the payroll tax. 

Third, I will help small businesses get the tools and the capital that they need to innovate and thrive. In the Senate, I cosponsored the bipartisan Small Business Lending Reauthorization and Improvements Act. This bill expands the U.S. Small Business Administration’s loan and micro-loan
programs which provide start-up and long-term financing that small firms cannot receive through normal channels.”

On health insurance reform: 

McCain: “My approach toward helping small businesses that cannot afford to provide their employees with health insurance is not to burden those small businesses, but to help their employees.  I will build on the current system to provide American families with a $5,000 refundable tax credit ($2,500 for individuals) to purchase insurance that fits their unique needs.  I will work closely with states to create Guaranteed Access Plans that will ensure quality coverage to individuals who are otherwise unable to find coverage due to high premiums. GAPs will have reasonable limits on premiums and offer help for low-income Americans.” 

“I strongly oppose mandates on employers, especially “play or pay” mandates forcing employers to provide employees with health insurance, which would lower wages and force employers to eliminate jobs.  For example, Barack Obama’s plan would require a business with 20 employees who had families to incur roughly a quarter of a million dollars in health-insurance costs and would mandate what the terms of those health-insurance plans needed to be.  He has since proposed a tax credit to try to offset these burdens, but even his own new proposal would only cover half the cost burden, would only apply as a tax credit, and would not ease the cash-flow burden of his plan on the business operator.”

Obama:  “I will reduce the burden on small businesses in our economy by offering a new small-business health-tax credit to help small businesses provide quality health care to their employees. This small-business health tax credit will provide a refundable credit of up to 50 percent on premiums paid by small businesses on behalf of their employees.  This health-care reform plan also includes other initiatives to reduce health-care costs for small businesses. This plan creates a new national health insurance exchange to allow small businesses to buy low-cost, high-quality health plans for their employees.  This proposal will allow small businesses to take advantage of a larger shared-risk insurance pool, a priority that the IFA has been advocating for years.”

“My plan will also reimburse employer health plans for a portion of the catastrophic costs they incur above a threshold if they guarantee such savings are used to reduce the cost of workers’ premiums.  This reimbursement is particularly important for small-business plans, which can be overwhelmed by the costs of catastrophic expenditures for even a single employee. Finally, this plan also invests in aggressive cost reduction measures including the broad adoption of standards-based electronic health-information systems, and other value-increasing innovations improving chronic care management, and increasing insurance market” competition.

On immigration reform: 

McCain: “I, and many other colleagues, twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic contribution of immigrant laborers; apprehend those who came here illegally to commit crimes; and deal practically and humanely with those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life for their families, without excusing the fact they came here illegally or granting them privileges before those who have been waiting their turn outside the country.  I don't want to fail again to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.  As part of this reform, I will implement temporary-worker programs that will reflect the labor needs of the United States in both the high-tech and low-skilled sectors while protecting the employment opportunities for U.S. workers.  I also believe we must establish a user-friendly system employing a limited set of secure documents that contain biometric data and are electronically verifiable to check a worker’s identity. This system should be secure and provide responses to employer inquiries in a prompt and timely manner to provide both the employer and employee security in their hiring decisions.”

Obama:  “I support comprehensive immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship for the undocumented.  As president, I will put comprehensive immigration reform back on the nation's agenda during my first year in office.  We must create an immigration system that strengthens our security while reaffirming our heritage as a nation of immigrants.  There are millions of people living in the shadows who would like to fully embrace our values and become full members of our democracy.  For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must encourage them to come out of hiding and get right with the law.  I support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, not commit crimes, and go to the back of the line for citizenship. After all those conditions are met, they would be granted the opportunity to stay in the United States.”

On death (estate) taxes: 

McCain: “Among my disagreements with Sen. Obama lies my concern over the estate tax, which he proposes to increase to a top rate of 45 percent.  The estate tax is one of the most unfair tax laws on the books, and the first step to reform is to keep it predictable and keep it low.  After a lifetime building up a business, and paying taxes on every dollar that business earns, that asset should not be subjected to a confiscatory tax.  I will hold the rate on the estate tax to 15 percent, with a $10 million dollar exemption per couple, so franchise owners can leave the product of a lifetime of labor and love to their children.”

Obama:  “We should reform the estate tax in order to completely eliminate estate taxes for 99.7 percent of Americans.  To do so, I would freeze the estate tax at its 2009 level of $7 million per couple and index it to inflation after that.  The remaining 0.3 percent of estates–the 8,000 wealthiest estates in the country–would still be able to keep a portion of the Bush estate tax cut under my plan.  I will use the savings from avoiding outright repeal to help finance tax cuts for tens of millions of working families and small-business owners.”

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About The International Franchise Association

The International Franchise Association, the world’s oldest and largest organization representing franchising, is the preeminent voice and acknowledged leader for the industry worldwide. Approaching a half-century of service with a growing membership of more than 1,300 franchise systems, 10,000-plus franchisees and more than 500 firms that supply goods and services to the industry, IFA protects, enhances and promotes franchising by advancing the values of integrity, respect, trust, commitment to excellence, honesty and diversity. For more information, visit the IFA Web site at www.franchise.org.

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