Opinions

Removing the obstacles to economic growth

Our country is facing two related but separate crises. The first is the federal government’s debt crisis, the result of decades of fiscal mismanagement by both political parties as well as unsustainable entitlement commitments. The second is the jobs crisis, which has resulted in painful levels of unemployment and underemployment. President Obama is wrong to think that the answer is to increase spending or raise taxes when so many millions of Americans are out of work.

In fact, the Obama administration’s anti-business, hyper-regulatory, pro-tax agenda has fueled economic uncertainty and sent the message from the administration that “we want to make it harder to create jobs.” There is no other conclusion for policies such as the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, including the “Transport Rule,” which could eliminate thousands of jobs, or the ozone regulation that would cost upward of $1 trillion and millions of jobs in the construction industry over the next decade. The administration’s new maximum achievable control technology standards for cement are expected to affect nearly 100 cement plants, setting over-the-top requirements resulting in increased costs and possibly thousands of jobs being offshored. There is the president’s silence as the National Labor Relations Board seeks to prevent Boeing from opening a plant in South Carolina that would create thousands of jobs. Such behavior, coupled with the president’s insistence on raising the top tax rate paid by individuals and small businesses, has resulted in a lag in growth that has added to the debt crisis, contributing to our nation’s credit downgrade.

The debt crisis threatens our long-term future: the ability of our children and their children to have the same opportunities to succeed that this and previous generations enjoyed. Republicans passed a budget this spring, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, that would address our challenges head-on by putting in place common-sense reforms to manage our debt over the short and long term.

Unfortunately, we have found President Obama to be an unwilling partner when it comes to getting America’s fiscal house in order. Since taking office, he has added trillions to the debt, ignored the recommendations of his own fiscal commission and put forth a budget that failed to address the drivers of our debt. Then we had to drag him to the table to make even the modest spending cuts that Standard & Poor’s says don’t go far enough.

The president has acknowledged that without reform, spending on entitlement programs is unsustainable. But he has also made clear that he would never support the type of structural changes to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security needed to make these programs solvent as envisioned in our budget — even if Republicans agree to his demand for tax increases. While a compromise on the way to strengthen entitlements may be one thing, raising taxes in this economy is another. Doing so would exacerbate the jobs crisis for the 14 million Americans out of work. It would negatively affect the businesses across America that we are counting on to get our economy going.

It is critical that as we work toward solutions to overcome both crises, the paths we take don’t expedite or worsen the other.

But the politics of division have reared up, fueled by efforts to incite class warfare. For example, though he often talks about millionaires, billionaires and corporate jet owners paying their “fair share,” behind closed doors the president admits to wanting to raise taxes on individuals making $200,000 per year and families and small businesses earning $250,000 per year.

Why does the president insist on higher taxes? Behind the rhetoric lies a desire to permanently increase the size of government — a philosophy that most Americans, who already think the government is trying to do too much — do not agree with. For the past few years, investors, families and businesses small and large have felt the threat of higher taxes, increased regulations and government expansion. Business people I talk to are worried about the massive costs imposed by the president’s health-care law and new regulations. Yet last week, the president called for more stimulus spending paid for by higher taxes and more job-killing regulations. The past two years have shown that this is no way to create jobs.

In lieu of more wasteful stimulus spending, we should go all-in on ways to invigorate growth. The Congressional Budget Office has found that for every one-tenth of 1 percent of additional economic growth, the budget deficit is narrowed by nearly $300 billion. Economic growth will help reduce the deficit and get people back to work.

That is why this fall the Republican Party will pursue a legislative agenda that boosts economic growth through reducing the regulatory and tax burden. We will make sure that Washington policies are less restrictive to businesses small and large. Our goals include repealing the “3 percent withholding rule,” which serves as an effective tax increase on those who do business with the government, and overturning the EPA’s proposed regulations that inhibit jobs in areas as varied as cement and farm dust. We plan to prevent the NLRB from inhibiting where a business chooses to create jobs. We well know that the Republican majority was not elected to raise taxes or take more money out of the pockets of hardworking families and business people. We were elected to change the way Washington does business and spends money.

The writer, a Republican from Virginia, is the House majority leader.

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