Concerns about the state of the economy continue to resonate throughout the country, as high unemployment and sluggish growth persist. A recent Gallup poll reports that the economy is still Americans' biggest worry -- topping the list since 2008.
Reigniting the Economy
There are promising signs in Washington that bipartisan support exists for policies that would empower job creators and help reignite the country's economic engine. The recent budget debate forced the Democrat-controlled Senate to vote on a number of pro-growth measures, and several earned the approval of a wide majority. From health care to energy production, the message was clear that job creators -- not the government -- should drive America's economic recovery.
Here are five important priorities with bipartisan success:
Reining in irresponsible government growth. Last month, I offered an amendment to the Senate's budget resolution that would make it more difficult for the federal government to shift the cost of its out-of-control spending habits onto others. My amendment, which passed on a voice vote, targets the use of unfunded mandates, which place unjust financial burdens on state and local governments, and by extension, Mississippi taxpayers. In curbing Washington's reach, the legislation would help build the confidence that job creators need to invest and hire.
Repealing costly provisions of Obamacare. During the budget debate, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to repeal the medical device tax -- a key provision of President Obama's health-care law. By a vote of 79 to 20 on an amendment I cosponsored, Republicans and Democrats agreed that the $30 billion tax on medical devices has made a harmful impact -- hurting innovation, threatening thousands of American jobs, and adding to costs for consumers.
Boosting North American energy production. With 62 votes, an amendment to the Senate budget by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) demonstrated the widespread bipartisan support for the Keystone XL pipeline. The Obama Administration continues to delay a decision on the pipeline's permit, despite extensive environmental reviews and the potential to put thousands of Americans to work right away. Funded by private industry, the investment requires no taxpayer dollars.
Eliminating government waste. A budget amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) earned strong Senate support for its call to follow the recommendations of the Government Accountability Office and consolidate government programs that are duplicative and wasteful. With federal spending at record-high levels, getting rid of ineffective bureaucracy and mismanagement is critical to lowering the national debt and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used efficiently.
Removing bureaucratic hurdles to job creation. The unanimous approval of the Water Resources Development Act by the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee represents a significant step forward in supporting U.S. trade and economic growth. As a member of the committee, I am encouraged by the bill's provisions to streamline lengthy and costly environmental reviews for local partners and contractors involved with Army Corps of Engineers' projects, such as ports and inland waterways.
Empowering Job Creators
There is plenty of work left to do in Washington to advance these urgent priorities. Yet, amid frequent gridlock, the showing of bipartisanship sends the right signal to America's job creators. A lasting economic turnaround depends on job creators' vitality and capability to grow and invest. Worries about higher taxes and more government bureaucracy stifle the spirit of entrepreneurship that we need to get unemployment down and economic growth back on the rise.