Today, Congressman Eric Cantor (VA-07) met with local realtors and industry experts to discuss a pro-growth economic plan during a housing forum hosted by the Richmond Association of Realtors. Below are excepts of Congressman Cantor's remarks as prepared for delivery:
Of all industries that have been affected by the downturn in the economy, yours is one that has been and is still at the center of the storm. I salute you for your tenacity and resilience.
America has a rich history of standing tall in tough times and going the extra mile to propel us forward. Whether it was the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution or the Internet Revolution: Americans are unique in our ability to apply creativity, intellect and leadership to solve any problem. Now we face new obstacles as this country finds itself at a crossroads. Before us, is a choice about who we want to be as a country, and believe me, there is a choice.
Here are the choices: Weak or strong, lagging or leading, shrinking or growing. Do we want to be a country where the people work for the government or the government works for the people? To be strong, to lead, to grow, and to empower people - here's what we need to do. We've got to shift from having a government that smothers new jobs and business growth to one that nurtures an environment for growth.
As many of you know, I come from the real estate industry. To me, as a real estate lawyer and developer, growth is about entrepreneurs starting businesses that rent spaces in office parks, shopping centers and industrial facilities. It's about new business start ups that provide the jobs for people who want to buy homes as well as goods and services in our community. And it's been proven, the entrepreneurs or start up businessmen and women will be the engine for our economic comeback.
Last year the Kaufmann Foundation released a study showing that so-called "gazelle" companies -- those 3-5 years old, create roughly 10 percent of the jobs, despite being only 1 percent of the companies. That top performing 1 percent contributes an astounding 88 jobs per year compared to an average company that adds just two or three. Gazelles mean more tenants and more homebuyers.
Start ups mean more tenants and homebuyers. And, let's face it, there simply aren't enough start ups to fuel a full rebound. Instead of focusing on the goal of America becoming a startup country again, Washington has created an era of regulatory assault that is killing off job growth and economic prosperity. DC is killing off the speedy gazelles and instead has produced a wounded lion.
The Small Business Administration admits that Government regulations are estimated to cost our economy over $1.75 trillion a year. To make matters worse, in 2009 the Administration had under various stages of consideration another 184 regulations that are estimated to cost the economy in excess of $100 million each. That is why we are taking up legislation in the House to lessen the regulatory burden on everything from the community banks, the Internet, the airlines to energy production.
Smart regulations are fine, as long as they help steer businesses into the black rather than into a tangle of red tape. The problem with laws such as ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank is that they are sedatives rather than stimulants to new job growth. Bottom line: It's time for Washington's war on small business to end. Washington must begin approaching problems through the prism of small businessmen and women.
Our team in the new Republican majority is resolved to doing this by employing a two-track approach: "Cut and Grow". While spending restraint is a mandatory precursor for growth, House Republicans are prepared to do more.
We can start by making America competitive again in the area of business taxation. It's wrong that American companies are paying taxes at rates that are 50% higher than even those in Europe. We must make America competitive again by lowering the corporate tax rate to at least 25% - equal to our competitors. Forging consensus on this type of fundamental tax reform will take time, so in the meantime I propose that we allow U.S. multinational companies to bring back almost $1.2 trillion in overseas profits at a lower tax so they can invest in our economy here at home.
A competitive tax code is critical. But small businesses, especially, need access to capital to grow. So we will work to bring to the floor measures which provide incentives for regulators to normalize their approach to entrepreneurial risk.
Meanwhile, let's face it, the weak housing market serves as an anchor on the economy. Creating jobs and promoting entrepreneurship and business investment will help, but we also must shore up the housing finance system. Our goal is to create an environment for the private sector to engage in lending again, where the federal government has filled a void in the market through Fannie and Freddie and FHA. We will work to eliminate the systemic risk that GSEs pose to our nation, but are committed to doing it in a way that does not jeopardize the prospects for a rebound in the real estate industry. We need smart regulations for mortgage applications that mitigate risk but do not close the doors to homeownership to responsible borrowers.
In America, it's always been, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, everyone's got a fair shot, not guaranteed success but the opportunity to work hard and get ahead. This very American notion seems to be in doubt. A lot of Americans blame the bad actors perpetrating mortgage fraud for the devaluation of their homes. They blame the bad actors on Wall Street for emptying out their 401-k's. And they blame the government for not preventing it. This has left most Americans wondering, "What happened to their fair shot in life?"
In America, whether you're you may be talking to the union worker in Philadelphia, the retired state employee in Sacramento or the working Mom in a small town in Kansas. All of them come from different places and different backgrounds. But each of them rely upon a simple and implicit guarantee -- that the deck won't be stacked against them in America. That they'll have a fair shot and the opportunity to succeed.
Setting the stage for an American come back will only be hard if we lose sight of this and if we lose sight of the fact that America's exceptionalism lies in the promise of unlimited opportunity and a limited government. We can out work, out hustle and out innovate anyone so long as our market is free and the playing field is fair.
It is really up to us. So, in the spirit of the gazelles, those start up tenants and businesses that will create the engine of growth, let us resolve to find ways to cooperate and work together to make sure the future belongs to us in Virginia and America.