America only works when Americans are working, and far too many Americans aren't working under this president's job-killing policies. During the 2008--2009 recession, the unemployment rate nearly doubled from its norm of about 5 percent to 9.8 percent. In the three years since, America's unemployment rate has never dropped below 8 percent, making this the longest protracted period of high unemployment since the Great Depression. Kentucky's unemployment rate is even higher than the national average.
The rate of "underemployment" or "real unemployment," which takes into account the sharp decline in labor force participation and discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work, is near 15 percent. In total, over 22 million Americans are underemployed and one out of every two recent college graduates is either jobless or underemployed. As a result, new unemployment claims are rising and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, one in seven U.S. residents received food stamps last year, a 70% increase from 2007.
Equally troubling is that fact that for people who have jobs, incomes are falling. When President Obama took office, median household income was $54,797.63. As of the last quarter of 2011, median household income was $52,377.21.
Growth in America's gross domestic product remains weak, is far below the usual increases coming out of a deep recession and is insufficient to reduce unemployment. Oil prices have surged, home values are plummeting and foreclosures are up. Without a major shift in government policy, the prospects for full economic recovery are dim.
One need only examine the harmful economic policies of this Administration to understand why this is so. Over the course of the past three years, politicians and bureaucrats in Washington have dampened business confidence and elevated uncertainty by promoting oppressive regulations and red tape, skyrocketing deficits, a government takeover of our health care system and job-killing tax increases. As a result, the United States is far less hospitable to growth-inducing, job-creating entrepreneurial activity than it was only a few short years ago.
The First Steps to Creating Jobs
Promote Growth by Cutting Taxes
The first step in getting Americans back to work would be to abandon the tax increases in Obamacare, defeat proposals to increase taxes on capital gains and dividends and prevent existing tax relief from expiring at the end of this calendar year. The prospect of higher taxes will make it much less likely that small businesses and entrepreneurs will hire new workers. The best way to grow the economy and create jobs would be to cut taxes and get the government out of the way. We should reduce the number of tax brackets and lower marginal rates on those that remain to allow families and small businesses keep more of what they earn. We should abolish the death tax and lower taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends. And we should dramatically reduce the corporate income tax rate, which results in higher prices for consumers, lower wages for workers and is now the highest in the world. Ultimately, we should abandon our needlessly complex and unfair tax code and replace it with an alternative system that promotes work, saving and investment.
Empower Small Business by Reigning in Burdensome Regulations
One of the primary impediments to economic recovery is the avalanche of new rules, regulations and red tape coming out of Washington, all of which imposes huge costs on business and creates a destructive environment of uncertainty in the private sector. Since January 2009, the Obama administration has imposed at least 75 new major regulations with reported costs to the private sector exceeding $40 billion. This torrent of new red tape is expected to continue, as hundreds of new financial, health care and environmental regulations stemming from Dodd-Frank, Obamacare and the EPA advance through the regulatory pipeline. Overregulation of our financial services sector through Dodd-Frank, and other misguided policies, has been particularly harmful as it has prevented community banks, which had absolutely nothing to do with the financial crisis, from lending to credit-worthy entrepreneurs. Congress should repeal Dodd-Frank and enact common sense regulatory reforms, such as the REINS Act, which would require congressional approval of any major rule before it goes into effect.
Maximize Domestic Energy Production
Gas prices have doubled under this administration and electricity rates will continue to rise as the Environmental Protection Agency forces more of America's coal-fired power plants to cease operations. We must promote more domestic energy production from multiple sources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs. That means stopping the EPA's war on coal and aggressively promoting Kentucky's coal industry as a source of high paying jobs and an integral part of our nation's overall strategy to achieve energy independence. Likewise, we should ease federal restrictions on domestic oil and natural gas production and make more U.S. lands and waters, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), accessible for appropriate exploration and production.
Repeal Obamacare and Replace it with Real Health Care Reform that Lowers Costs without Growing Government
By punishing employers that expand beyond fifty employees, imposing a half-trillion dollars in new taxes on the American people and forcing millions of Americans out of their existing health care plans and into heavily regulated state-based "exchanges," Obamacare will effectively transfer one-sixth of the American economy into the hands of government. Congress should immediately repeal this 2,700-page job killer and pass reforms that put doctors and patients in charge of health decisions instead of bureaucrats.
Cut Wasteful Spending, Balance the Budget and Reduce the National Debt
Washington's culture of overspending has produced massive borrowing and skyrocketing debt. This has rattled investors and job creators who face a future of increasing taxes, skyrocketing inflation and high interest rates. This uncertainty discourages business owners from making investments, taking on new risks and hiring new workers. One of the best ways Congress can restore confidence among employers, consumers and investors would be to stop the Washington spending spree, address the looming debt crisis and force the government to live within its means.