WASHINGTON, D.C. —
There has been a lot of talk in Washington lately about jobs and the economy. With national unemployment languishing above 9 percent, it is past time for this conversation. Far too often, I hear people in government talk about what we should do to “create jobs.” To be clear, politicians do not create jobs; they can only create policies that encourage job growth.
When Congress passed the $787 billion stimulus in February 2009, President Obama promised that the unemployment rate would be below 7 percent by September 2011. Instead, the national unemployment rate has increased to 9.1 percent, and our national debt has skyrocketed.
Now the president has presented another multi-billion dollar stimulus plan that relies on the same spending and government-centric tax incentives. These are temporary tax cuts paid for by permanent tax increases. While I applaud the president for making the economy the central focus, I am disappointed that the solutions proposed are the same policies that brought us record-high deficits and protracted economic stagnation.
I believe it is time for a new question, “What is the federal government doing to slow economic growth and why?” There are hundreds of low-cost or no-cost ideas that could get our nation back to work. Allowing companies to move the income they have earned overseas back to the United States would bring more than a trillion dollars of private capital back to the United States. We also could complete our free trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea, lifting the regulatory burden off community banks enabling them to lend to small businesses. We should move forward with the Keystone Pipeline, expand leasing and permitting for energy exploration, place a two-year moratorium on regulations and stop telling businesses in which states they can operate.
If you really want to “jolt” the economy back to life, we must repeal the Affordable Care Act and lock in marginal tax rates. The stability alone would give confidence to businesses about the financial future and the cost of new employees.
These ideas empower the private sector to grow their business but do not allow politicians to take credit for “job creation.” The president stated last week that he believes his plan could get America back to No. 1, but I believe that America is still No. 1. The problem in our nation is not our people; it is the broken system of centralized control in Washington that believes jobs are created by a select group in big government buildings. It is time to drop the unemployment rate by unleashing business and allowing Americans to get back to work.
REP. JAMES LANKFORD, R-Edmond, represents the 5th Congressional District of Oklahoma. His office may be reached at 202-225-2132.