The four Republican U.S. Senate candidates, who say government can't create jobs, have put forward their jobs plans in hopes of winning over voters battered by the economic recession.
The unemployment rate, at 8.3 percent in July, has been at or above that mark for 42 straight months, U.S. Labor Department statistics indicate.
Businessman Eric Hovde, former Gov. Tommy Thompson, former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann and state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald agree that Congress should lower the corporate tax rate. But they have different priorities on how to improve the economy.
"No. 1, we have to become more competitive in a global market and, right now, I don't think we're doing that," Fitzgerald said. "I think when you look at us, we're the highest corporate-taxed country in the industrialized world right now at 35 percent."
Hovde, a hedge fund manager, agreed. He said he would pay for the lower corporate rate by ending tax breaks for larger corporations, which he called "welfare."
"We need to get rid of the corporate welfare, because what it's doing is distorting our free market system," he said. "Small- and medium-size businesses are paying the highest rate in the world and yet big giant businesses are paying a fraction of that rate."
Thompson, the state's former four-term governor, said business owners have chosen to invest their money in other countries, and the U.S. needed to get them back. He called his plan a "boon" for the economy.
"My objective is to waive the 35 percent (corporate) tax, and allow those people to come back provided they invest it in people, plants and equipment," Thompson said. "That would free up almost $1 trillion, which would be the largest stimulus this country's ever seen."
Neumann, who has made a balanced federal budget the key issue in his campaign, said the current level of government debt makes businesses less confident.
"What we need to do is balance the budget so the government doesn't keep taking $1.3 trillion -- that's the deficit -- out of the private sector," said Neumann, a home builder. "When that money's available in the private sector, small business owners like myself are going to borrow it to build and expand our businesses."
A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows Thompson's lead has shrunk from a month ago.
The poll shows Thompson with 28 percent compared with 20 percent for Hovde and 18 percent for Neumann. Fitzgerald was last at 13 percent while 21 percent of voters remain undecided.
The margin of error is 4.4 percentage points.