Ten Things Congress Should Do to Help the Economy
1. Keep Taxes Consistently Low
2. Balance the Budget
3. Regulate Wisely
4. Make Energy Cheaper
5. Build Infrastructure
6. Open New Markets
7. Encourage Saving
8. Improve Education
9. Reform Healthcare
10. Encourage Strong Families
More detailed descriptions below.
1. Keep Taxes Consistently Low -- Every dollar you spend grows the economy. Every dollar the government takes away in taxes removes money from the economy. High taxes cost jobs. Seesawing tax rates discourage business investment, making businesses unsure of what the future will bring. That also costs jobs.
* In 2001, Congress cut taxes for every American. That law will expire next year. Congress should make it permanent.
* Permanently reducing the capital gains tax will encourage personal and business investment.
2. Balance the Budget -- For the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2009, the federal government recorded a deficit of $1.4 trillion, the highest in history and almost $1 trillion more than the previous year. In November, The New York Times reported that because of the huge $12 trillion debt, the government "faces a payment shock similar to those that sent legions of overstretched homeowners into default on their mortgages." The deficit is a severe threat to our future prosperity.
Congress must stop spending more than it has.
3. Regulate Wisely -- If the economy were a football game, it would be government's job to be the referee. We need clear and consistent rules that rein in greed and foolishness without stifling creativity and the free market.
* Congress was to blame for abuses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress must do a better job of minding the store.
* Bankruptcy laws must be fixed so that no bank or business is "too big to fail." Corruption and greed must face real consequences. I support legislation to do this, the Consumer Protection and Regulatory Enhancement Act, H.R. 3310.
4. Make Energy Cheaper -- Every part of our economy consumes gas, electricity, and other forms of energy. High energy costs mean less growth and fewer jobs.
* The SAFE Nuclear Act, HR 3448. I introduced this bipartisan bill to spur the construction of safe and clean nuclear power plants. This will increase our supply of American-made energy and protect the environment.
5. Build Infrastructure -- Better highways and bridges will make a better economy. "Time is money," as the saying goes, and Americans spend too much time waiting in traffic. This slows down the delivery of goods and services, and that slows our economy down and costs jobs.
* Unfortunately, only 6 percent of the "stimulus" passed last year was spent on infrastructure.
6. Open New Markets -- The recession hit farmers and manufacturers especially hard with a 50 percent drop in international demand for our exports. Congressional inaction on pending trade agreements with friendly nations like South Korea, Panama, and Colombia is hurting our economy and inflating unemployment.
7. Encourage Saving -- Saving and investing is not only good for the investor, it's good for the businesses we invest in. Americans need to save more and invest more.
* The Savings for Working Families Act, H.R. 1234 -- I introduced this bill to help low income families save for the future with matching contributions from financial institutions, non-profits, and Indian tribes.
* Help Kids Save for College Act, H.R. 2500 -- I introduced this bill to make it easier for families to save money for their children's college tuition by allowing matching contributions from employers.
8. Improve Education -- Education levels are directly connected to individual and national prosperity. America's colleges and universities are the best in the world, but many of our grade schools and high schools are failing.
* The Dollars to the Classroom Act. I have long promoted this bill to guarantee that 95 cents of each federal education dollar will be spent in the classroom instead of on bureaucracy. I will be reintroducing it this month.
* Encourage innovation and competition in public education through charters schools, school choice, and merit-based tenure and promotion.
9. Reform Healthcare -- Families, employers, and the government are all spending too much on healthcare. This robs money from other parts of the economy. Real health reform will reduce, rather than increase, what we pay as a nation for health insurance.
* The Small Business CHOICE Act, H.R. 859 -- I introduced this bill with Rep. Nydia Velazquez, a Democrat from New York, to make it cheaper and easier for small businesses to provide health insurance for their employees.
10. Encourage Strong Families -- Strong and stable families produce more productive citizens and use fewer government services.
* Permanently end the "marriage penalty" in the tax code.
* Preserve the bipartisan 1996 welfare reform law.