Election Day 2012 marked the end of this year's political cycle. But, while the election results may have stopped scrolling across the television and computer screens, it is important to remember that we are still facing many serious challenges that must be overcome. Unemployment remains chronically high as our nation's businesses are faced with tax and regulatory uncertainty. Out of control federal deficits and unsustainable entitlement programs balloon our debt and threaten the fiscal security of our nation. And thanks to a combination of unacceptable tax increases and spending cuts, we are facing a "fiscal cliff" that threatens to plunge our nation back into recession. These challenges may be great, but as elected officials we have a solemn duty to face them.
Sequestration, the $1.2 trillion in cuts to defense and other discretionary spending set to go into effect right after the start of the new year, should be among the first items this Congress addresses as we return to work. As painful as these cuts will be if we don't meet the deficit reductions required under the Budget Control Act, this country can no longer afford the trillion dollar deficits we have experienced over the last four years. The time for kicking the can down the road is over. The time to take meaningful steps toward returning this country to fiscal solvency is upon us. For sure, sequestration will cut into programs near and dear to conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats. This is all the more reason for us to move together as Americans to reduce our deficits in deliberate, thoughtful ways, rather than using arbitrary and automatic cuts to avoid the tough decisions that need to be made.
We must also work to stop the pending tax hike on the American people set to take place in January. The American people cannot afford a massive increase in their taxes, and our nation's small businesses, who drive economic growth and job creation, cannot afford a tax increase either. The Congress must understand the importance of reforming our tax code to make it flatter, fairer, and simpler for all Americans. We can reform our tax code to eliminate special-interest deductions and lower rates to encourage greater economic growth. Because the real way to ensure economic prosperity and increased revenues is through common sense economic policies that allow businesses to expand and American ingenuity to thrive and drive our free market.
In the House we have already passed legislation to avert the pending tax hike and give us time to work towards true tax reform. House Republicans stand ready to work across party lines to produce these long term solutions; however, we cannot and will not support big-spending, job-killing, anti-growth policies that would drive our economy into recession, raise taxes on the American people, and further exacerbate our debt problem.
The election is over and the time for politics has passed. House Republicans understand the urgency of fixing the problems facing our nation to ensure that we do not run off the fiscal cliff. We also understand that averting the fiscal cliff is simply one step in an ongoing process to reform our tax code, put our entitlement programs back on a path to fiscal solvency, balance our budget, and restore our nation to economic prosperity through pro-growth economic policies. The American people have entrusted us with a great responsibility. Now it is imperative that the Democrat-controlled Senate join us to work and pass legislation to create an economic climate that puts Americans back to work and puts our nation back on track for long-term prosperity.