There are many serious problems in Washington: the Senate refuses to consider a budget, the national debt continues to balloon, spending on food stamps and other social programs have skyrocketed, and the prospect of massive defense cuts has ended America's ability to successfully fight a two front war - the foundation of our defense strategy since World War II. But maybe the most troubling and far-reaching problem in Washington now is the Obama Administration's treatment, through its policies and its rhetoric, of small business owners - America's job creators.
Small businesses serve as the engine of our economy creating more than 60 percent of new jobs. They are manufacturers, restaurants, service stations, construction companies, high-tech startups - they are America's innovators. They are risk takers. They create goods and provide services that people want. They employ tens of millions of Americans. And they are hurting. They are hurting because this Administration is regulating them into the ground.
According to the Heritage Foundation, President Obama has imposed new regulations on job creators costing them $46 billion annually on a variety of goods and services ranging from air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, car emissions, product labeling, higher minimum wages for foreign workers and health care mandates under Obamacare. Not surprisingly, the most expensive regulations come from the president's EPA which cost businesses an additional $4 billion annually.
And if these regulatory burdens and federal mandates aren't enough, the president and some in Congress want to raise taxes on job creators that are finding ways to succeed. A recent Ernst & Young analysis of President Obama's proposed tax hike indicates that the tax will hit thousands of small businesses, costing our economy more than 700,000 jobs. Why would we punish successful businesses? Why would we make it harder for them to expand, invest and hire more people?
We may have gotten that unfortunate answer from the president last week. In a recent speech, President Obama stated that, "If you're successful, you didn't get there on your own." He went on to declare that "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." I meet with small business owners regularly. I know that many small business owners work long hours, weekends, borrow against their mortgage, skip paying themselves so they can meet payroll for their employees and then pay the taxes that fund the roads, bridges, schools and fire departments in their community. The president's statements show, at best, a complete lack of understanding how America's economy works. At worst, it shows a callous disregard for job creators and taxpayers.
There is much to fix in Washington, but freeing our job creators should be the top priority. The president should reconvene his White House Jobs Counsel that was charged with developing recommendations to spur job growth (which hasn't met for six months), overhaul the regulatory process, scrap all plans for tax hikes and begin to work to create an environment where small businesses can focus on innovating and growing again rather than complying with federal mandates, higher taxes and even more red tape.
U.S. House of Representative Bill Johnson represents Ohio's 6th Congressional District.