If you're like most Americans, chances are, someone in your family is out of work. Solving this nation's crushing unemployment problem has been my focus since the people of Eastern and Southeastern Ohio sent me to Washington to start the process of change.
That's why, on Thursday, I listened carefully when President Obama spoke about his ideas about job creation. There are some things I like: incentives to put our veterans and returning troops to work, putting trade agreements in place to boost exports and create jobs, and regulatory reform. But he also talked of more spending and tax hikes. While I applaud his decision to finally lead on the critical issue of creating jobs, his policies for economic growth continue to fall short.
Spending more tax dollars - and raising taxes to do so - simply won't create private sector jobs. If it did, the trillions already spent on bailouts, the so-called economic "stimulus" bill, and President Obama's new health care mandates would have already done so. More spending simply adds to our national debt, which now stands at $14.7 trillion. Essentially, every man, woman and child's share of the debt is $47,000. And much of that debt is owed to China.
So, if more government spending isn't the solution, how do we get America working again?
I've proposed five specific actions we must accomplish to create economic certainty, give job creators the confidence they need to begin hiring again, and make American companies more competitive globally. They are: require the federal government to balance its budget annually; scrap the current federal tax code and implement a flatter, fairer tax code; eliminate all pending federal regulations not directly tied to public health or national security; establish a clear national energy policy; and repeal the President's health care law.
Amending the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget annually is long overdue. While Washington politicians spend without restraint, they have the audacity to tell Americans that everyone else needs to "pay their fair share." That's politician code for tax hikes. Families, many states, and cities already must balance their budgets. It's time Washington does the same.
Next, the federal tax code is so complex and burdensome that it stifles job creation and economic growth. It should be replaced with a simpler, fairer tax structure with a lower rate. This year alone, taxpayers will spend more than $400 billion just to comply with tax code. And, it becomes more complex annually as more regulations and reporting requirements are placed on families and businesses. Tax policy should encourage savings, investment, competition, and economic growth. The current tax code does none of that.
Third, all pending federal regulations not directly tied to safety or national security should be suspended. The Small Business Administration estimates that complying with federal regulations costs Americans nearly $2 trillion annually - basically a hidden tax. And the Government Accountability Office determined that in 2010, the Obama administration enacted 43 new regulations, increasing costs on everything from cars to food. And another 219 regulations costing over $100 million each are scheduled for this year. Far too many of these misguided regulations destroy American jobs.
Fourth, America desperately needs a national energy policy. Our current dependence on foreign energy is short-sighted, unnecessary, and undercuts national security. We have enough oil, natural gas and coal right here to meet our energy needs. By preventing Americans from accessing these resources, President Obama and his allies are blocking tens of thousands of new jobs that would be created by developing more domestic energy.
Finally, the President's health care law should be repealed. While our health care system can and should be improved, we should focus on patient-centered solutions that provide Americans more freedom of choice. Federal mandates on individuals and small businesses will raise costs and cost jobs. A better course involves enacting national medical malpractice reform; expanding health savings accounts; increasing portability by allowing individuals to purchase plans across state lines and carry their insurance from job to job; and, expanding association health plans for small businesses. With its trillion-dollar price tag and big government mandates, Obamacare creates enormous uncertainty for job creators.
I've discussed all this with countless residents of Eastern and Southeastern Ohio and they like what they hear. But the popularity of this agenda has little to do with me. These ideas are rooted in the American dream and they can boost America's economy and lead to real job creation. If President Obama helps us, we can start creating the jobs Ohio and America need.
U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, lives in Marietta.