By Senator John Barasso
America got a serious wake-up call when we learned our economy has been growing at an anemic 1.5%. This confirmed again that this is the slowest recovery since the Great Depression -- and the complete opposite of what the president promised would happen.
On Friday, the government will release new unemployment numbers. If over 8% of Americans still don't have jobs, it's time for all Americans to ask: What now?
Maybe the answer lies in the Hippocratic Oath that I took in medical school. It can be boiled down to one phrase: First, do no harm. That's good advice for doctors, but also for senators and presidents. The problem is, we now have a president in the White House and Democrats in Congress who don't follow it.
President Obama's policies have not healed America's sick economy. Why? Many of us think it's because, in the words of the Economist magazine, he "has regulated to death a private sector he neither likes nor understands."
This lack of understanding may explain why the president recently said, "We tried our plan -- and it worked." No, the plan did not work. More people signed up for Social Security disability benefits last month than got a job.
Look at what else the president said recently about small-business owners: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." Every community in America has small-business owners who know they worked extremely hard to build their business.
In my hometown of Casper, Wyo., most of the businesses we have are small. They were started by men and women with dreams and determination. These people aren't looking for a government handout, but they didn't think their government would be so hostile toward them.
Instead of doing all he can to help small employers, the president is burying them under more regulations and red tape. Democrats in Washington like to say they're in favor of creating jobs. Then they turn around and do the very things that hurt job creators.
Even worse, the president is paying for his failed policies by saddling future generations with massive debt. He demonstrates no sincere interest in cutting government spending -- even as the federal government has grown less efficient, effective and accountable. When he's borrowed all he can -- lots of it from China -- he tries to raise taxes to spend even more.
The president already pushed through half a trillion dollars in new taxes and fees with his health care plan. Last week, Democrats in the Senate took two steps toward doing grave harm to our economic recovery by attacking small businesses and family farms. Democrats voted to raise income taxes and also voted to hike the death tax to crushing levels.
Republicans have a plan to create a healthier economy by making our tax code simpler, flatter and fairer for all Americans. In contrast, Democrats' tax increases would make things even worse. If Senate Democrats do not act to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, they could create a worldwide recession. Democrats appear to be ready to do it.
The Senate Democratic leadership has made clear that they would let the country go over the fiscal cliff, rather than compromise on tax hikes. President Obama said if Congress passes reasonable legislation that keeps tax rates where they are, even temporarily while we sort out long-term tax reform, he'd veto that bill.
As America approaches its 42nd consecutive month of unemployment over 8%, we need Washington to change direction. It needs to lower taxes, not raise them; reduce red tape, not increase it; control our spending, not pile up more debt; free Americans' entrepreneurial spirit, not stifle it.
If we are to heal our sick economy, Washington must first do no harm.