ANDERSON — The two things U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly would like to see accomplished in the next year is a return home of American troops from Afghanistan and a continued decline in the unemployment rate.
Donnelly, D-Ind., met with the editorial board of The Herald Bulletin on Wednesday to discuss a number of topics.
“I want our men and women home from Afghanistan,” he said. “Have almost all of them home by December.”
Between 8,000 and 10,000 American troops will remain in the country as trainers and members of the Special Forces to stabilize the Middle East nation, Donnelly said.
He said the second goal in 2014 would be that the unemployment rate continues to drop.
Donnelly said that most of his time in the Senate is for the creation of more jobs in Indiana and the country.
He said the Indiana congressional delegation has been working to secure funding for infrastructure improvements in Indiana communities like Anderson.
The goal, Donnelly said, is to create more jobs in Indiana. He noted that the 2nd Congressional District, which he represented prior to being elected to the Senate in 2012, was anchored by Elkhart and Howard counties, both of which had experienced high unemployment rates.
“Everything starts with jobs,” he said. “We have to increase the education, skills and talents of the American worker.”
Donnelly said the gap in labor costs for companies that moved overseas is narrowing and America is approaching energy independence.
“We’re on the other side of the curve,” he said. “We will start to see jobs return.”
Donnelly said the United States has a trained workforce and a good business climate. He said Indiana is in the perfect location to take advantage of the upswing in job growth.
He expects reforms of the federal tax credit to be completed soon that will encourage companies to do business in America.
Donnelly said what has to be removed is a benefit in the tax code for companies that locate overseas or don’t pay their fair share of taxes.
He said the corporate tax rate could be cut from 35 to 25 percent. Donnelly said the average tax rate for businesses is 17 percent because of loopholes in the tax code.
“We want to provide incentives for companies to bring jobs to the U.S.,” he said.
Donnelly is in discussions with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., incoming chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to emphasize the importance of jobs.
“Manufacturing is the heartbeat of the nation,” he said. “We need the best educated, talented workforce in the world.”
Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.