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This Week in Washington: "After a Month in Office, New House Having an Impact"


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Last week marked a month since the new House Republican majority took the gavel from Speaker Pelosi and began the difficult, but necessary task of reining in out-of-control government spending. In this remarkably short period of time, there has already been a substantial difference as lawmakers focus on budget cuts and Washington living within its means.

The federal government's massive spending addiction and frighteningly large $14 trillion national debt are crushing weights that will suffocate our country unless bold steps are taken to stop their advance. For many years politicians have talked about the dire consequences for our society if government overspending isn't restrained. Last fall the American people said it's time to put the nation's house in order and the new Congress is now translating that message into action.

Less than five weeks on the job, the new conservative House has voted to cut federal spending by $650 billion, including a five percent reduction in our own operating budget. By contrast, during the first four weeks of the last Congress, Speaker Pelosi presided over the approval of $682 billion in new federal spending, and that was just the beginning. As we all know, under the direction of President Obama, the government increased its debt by a historic $3 trillion over the last two years, with $1 trillion alone spent on promised job-creating stimulus programs that failed to deliver.

The president's unpopular new health care law threatens to add another $700 billion to the federal deficit while raising premiums for many and forcing some to give up their choice of insurance plans. To address the overreach of ObamaCare, the House voted on January 19 to repeal the massive new law. We also voted to begin the process of writing legislation to replace the controversial big government program with targeted health care reforms that Americans actually want.

For nearly two years, the national unemployment rate hasn't dropped below 9 percent. Real progress in jumpstarting the economy cannot be made until employers feel confident enough about the future that they begin hiring. Small business is America's job creator, not the government. Yet, there are steps the government can take to assist in restoring lost confidence in the economy.

To begin, government should strive to keep taxes low. Last year's extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief was a good start and it is having a positive effect on business. But that's not enough.

One of the largest impediments to job growth is the ever-increasing regulatory burden government places on business. Even President Obama has admitted that such policies in the past have had a negative impact on our economy. He recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal "…We have from, time to time, embraced common sense rules of the road that strengthen our country without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy. Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business -- burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs."

Federal regulations on business have accelerated since President Obama took office, costing our economy over $26 billion so far. ObamaCare alone has heaped over 6,100 pages of new regulations on business.

Taken to the local level, the average small business with under 20 workers has to struggle with $10,585 in federal regulations annually for each employee. This is significant when you consider that small businesses actually represent over 90 percent of all businesses in America.

Last week, the House voted to expand its review of job-crippling federal regulations and focus attention on ways the administration can lessen the burden on small business. The House has also created a web site where business owners can submit their stories of how government regulations handicap their livelihoods. Business owners are encouraged to visit the House Government Reform Committee special web site:

This week, as the president delivers his new budget to Congress, the House will vote on a plan to reduce overall 2011 federal spending by $100 billion dollars, returning it to 2008 levels.

Co-Chairing Congressional Tourism Caucus:

Here in South Alabama, tourism is a significant part of our economy, generating some $3.2 billion in 2009 -- one third of our state's travel-related tourist dollars.

I was honored to be recently named co-chair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, along with Rep. Sam Farr, D-California. The caucus helps to educate lawmakers on the vital role tourism plays in job creation.

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