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This Week in Washington: "America Again at a Crossroads"

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Yogi Berra coined the phrase "It's like deja vu all over again." For those of us over 40, the current "great recession" also provokes a familiar feeling.

The anxiety gripping our country reminds us of another period when America found itself at a similar ideological crossroads. It was a little more than a generation ago when our nation suffered under the crushing weight of 13 percent inflation, high energy costs and growing unemployment. Back then some even questioned if our best days were over. It took bold leadership and the rejection of the bureaucratic notion that Washington knows best in order to steer our country back to prosperity.

Thirty years later, Americans again find ourselves doubting the future while struggling to overcome the effects of a stubbornly anemic economy magnified by the misguided big-government policies of our president. After 20 months of unchecked federal spending and government expansion, Americans see little sign of hope in the change promised by the president and his supporters in Congress.

Americans rightly feel the president's near one trillion federal stimulus was wasted and did not stimulate promised job growth. Similarly, the president's $1 trillion government health care program is seen as a costly boondoggle already driving up premiums and forcing some to give up their preferred plans. The administration's threats of tax increases on small business -- the nation's most reliable jobs providers -- offers further proof the president and the liberal leadership in Congress are out of touch with main street America.

As Americans sit at their kitchen tables trying to balance their budgets, they are angry to learn the federal budget deficit is well above $1 trillion for the second year in a row. According to the Heritage Foundation, "…the annual budget deficit between 1789 and 2008 never reached $500 billion." This unprecedented red ink spending comes on the heels of government reports of record high underemployment levels in September. Over 26 million Americans are currently unemployed or unable to find full-time work.

For two years now, the federal government has largely stood in the way of economic recovery. I share the opinion of most Americans that Washington's best role is to promote job growth through less regulation and tax incentives. When Congress returns November 15 for a "lame duck" session, the first order of business should be to vote to renew the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which expire on December 31.

I have joined with other House Republicans in calling on the Democrat leadership of Congress to hold a vote this year to cut taxes in order to spur economic growth. Unfortunately, President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have made clear their opposition to renewing the expiring tax cuts for all Americans.

Instead, they want to increase taxes on those earning more than $250,000, including more than half of the nation's small business owners. The president says the tax hikes are necessary in order to pay down the record budget deficits created by his administration. He turns a deaf ear to local small businesses, which will be forced to fire employees or implement hiring freezes to pay this new tax burden.

I not only support renewing the tax cuts for all Americans, I also support the repeal of "Obamacare." I have endorsed the House Republican "Pledge to America," which calls for scrapping the unpopular and costly health care program and starting over with targeted reforms designed to reduce health care costs and improve accessibility for Americans.

As a first step toward getting government spending under control, I support reducing all non-defense related discretionary spending to 2008 levels. This would save as much as $1.5 trillion over ten years. I would also halt all federal stimulus spending, returning the unspent funds to the U.S. Treasury to pay down the debt. Additionally, I also support a hiring freeze on all non-security federal jobs and a reduction in Congress's operating budget.

The president has made no secret of his plans to use federal regulations to enact policy that he cannot pass in Congress, including elements of his unpopular Cap and Trade energy legislation. To counter such action, I support a House Republican proposal to require congressional approval of every federal regulation with an impact greater than $100 million.

Congress must also be held to greater scrutiny. Accordingly, I support posting all House legislation three days ahead of a vote so that it can be reviewed by the public. Additionally, I back requirements that all bills must pass a constitutionality test before they come to the House floor.

Former President Ronald Reagan once said. "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ordinary Americans at their dinner tables and in town halls are voicing their views that government must once again work for them and not the other way around.

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