By Errol Castens
Congressman Alan Nunnelee said the economy has some positive signs but that four factors still hold it back.
"We see signs of improvement, but still far too many Americans are out of work," he said. "We have a cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy."
Nunnelee, a Tupelo Republican in his second term representing the 1st District, made his case Wednesday to members of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce.
"First of all, we've got to deal with overregulation," Nunnelee said, citing bankers afraid of making loans, the Environmental Protection Agency's defining milk and dust as hazardous materials and employers afraid of unknowns related to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
"It's causing people not to hire, not to expand," he said. "Three weeks ago Sen. Max Baucus said that implementation of Obamacare is going to be "a train wreck.'" Baucus is a Montana Democrat.
Nunnelee's second factor was federal overspending.
"Right now, 40 cents out of every dollar we spend is borrowed money," he said, noting that families, local governments and even most state governments have to balance their budgets. He criticized President Barack Obama's promise of a "balanced approach" to deficits but his failure to agree to significant spending cuts.
Third on Nunnelee's list was simplifying the U.S. tax code, calling it "an important part of our economic recovery."
"Americans spend far too much time, effort and money completing their tax returns," he said. "Almost every working family has to hire some professional help to file their tax returns."
In naming his fourth factor for recovery, the second-term Republican congressman cited President John F. Kennedy's 1961 challenge to send an American to the moon and back within that decade.
"America embraced that challenge. We achieved that goal," he said. "I think the challenge of this generation ought to be before this decade is out that America become "energy secure."
"Energy recovery is American jobs, but it's also American security. One of the most important things we can do in the war on terror is not to be dependent on nations that hate us," he said.
After voicing his commitment to keeping Medicare and Social Security viable, Nunnelee added, "I think the biggest thing we're going to have to do on both of them is look at the eligibility age."