Grassley, R-Iowa, noted he had read in the Wall Street Journal that the Guardian corporation, because of import tax laws imposed in Europe on glass coming from the United States, "had to sell out of Thailand, instead of out of your American plant." "It never came to that," replied Stephan Farrar, Guardian's director of international business."But that would have been the step if we started to get a 17 percent tax. You can't compete with that sort of stuff."
Instead, the Senate and House passed legislation, now ready for the president's signature, which will take the tax to zero percent. Grassley, who was chairman of the bill in the Senate, said, "It should have passed a year ago.
"In the Senate, you only have a tax bill up once or twice a year," he explained, "so everybody who has a tax idea tries to amend your bill.
"Nobody argued with our basic bill, but everyone tried to put controversial things on it. I think it was even worse in the House, where the chairman had to write his bill four different times."
The legislation also contains a one-time provision enabling U.S. companies to bring home overseas earnings for investment in plants such as the one in DeWitt, Farrar said.
Grassley then toured the local plant to observe some of the investments made since his last visit.
Among them was a coating process which makes glass scratch resistant.
"One of the applications is on the humvees in Iraq," said Plant Manager Patrick Tuttle. "We have testimonials from people over there" who otherwise have to deal with glass which becomes sand blasted and difficult to see through.
Locally, the Necker's Jewelers store has used the glass on a display case to prevent scratches as customers view precious gems, according to Tuttle.
Other innovative products for consumers include energy-efficient coatings for window glass, he said.
"We recognize that in today's world economy, one of the things that give us an advantage is innovation," he said. "Glass has become such a common product worldwide, you really have to go up the technology ladder to be competitive."
Farrar reminded the senator, "One of the things we've talked to you about is a tax credit for energy-efficient windows as part of the energy bill. That kind of incentive would be extremely helpful."
Grassley was joined for the Guardian tour by Undersecretary of Commerce Kathleen Cooper and members of their staffs.