By Keith Rothfus
Washington can unleash the economic potential of hardworking Americans, grow a healthier economy and foster the creation of more jobs by taking some common-sense steps.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration economy is failing families, young people, seniors, workers and future generations.
Too many western Pennsylvanians and other Americans are unemployed, underemployed or have given up looking for work.
Based on the latest unemployment report, 496,000 Americans gave up looking for work in March, and more than 1.12 million have given up looking for work in the first three months of 2013.
Almost four in 10 have abandoned hope of finding a job, an unwelcome return to Jimmy Carter's economic malaise of 1979.
In the past few weeks, I have met workers, job-seekers and small-business owners in coffee shops and at events throughout the district. Jobs and economic security top their list of concerns.
Washington can best address those issues by spending less, taxing less, regulating more sensibly, and getting out of their way and off their backs.
We are counting on small-business owners to create the majority of new jobs. Instead of applying their time and energy to growing their businesses, they spend upward of two billion hours a year trying to comprehend and comply with the tax code.
Small-business owners are also forced to spend money on tax preparation that could otherwise go toward hiring new employees, increasing wages or buying new equipment.
By simplifying our tax code, we can free people from this burden and generate more economic productivity, which will lead to growth and job creation.
Just as Washington must simplify the tax code, it must reduce the regulations strangling growth, innovation, ingenuity and entrepreneurship.
The Small Business Administration estimated that federal rule-making has imposed a cumulative burden of $1.75 trillion on our economy.
Recently passed regulations threaten the jobs of coal miners, power-plant workers and employees of small businesses that are struggling with health care costs or access to credit.
One common-sense proposal to address excessively burdensome regulations is the Reins Act, which I co-sponsored. The Reins Act would require Congress to take an up or down vote on any regulation with a cost or impact of more than $100 million.
The principle is simple and direct: If the federal government is going to make a law that has that much of an impact on our economy, Congress should vote on it first.
In the meantime, we can help connect those looking for work with employers who are already hiring. Twelve million Americans are still looking for work, but 3.6 million jobs remain unfilled because employers cannot find enough employees with the right skill set.
The Skills Act, which passed the House with my support last month, will help job-seekers acquire new skills and employers find a well-trained workforce. It makes our government more efficient in serving the people by replacing a confusing web of duplicative and redundant federal programs with a one-stop shop for information and resources.
You can read more about the Skills Act at http://edworkforce.house.gov/skillsact/.
The Senate should take this legislation up immediately.
If Washington takes these common-sense steps to empower hardworking women and men, I am confident that we can grow our economy and get Americans back to work.
With the right tax and regulatory policies, America's economy can boom again.