Americans have always been innately optimistic about the future. We acknowledge that each generation has a mandate to leave a stronger, more prosperous nation to the next. Right now, however, there is a clear concern that our nation's current economic and fiscal trajectory will diminish the promise of America and the American Dream for our kids and grandkids.
Getting America back on the right track requires leadership and an ability and willingness to speak honestly about the challenges we face and propose solutions equal to the task. After 42 straight months of unemployment at or above 8 percent, the most immediate challenge we have is a stagnant economy. Great unease and uncertainty is plaguing our small business job creators. A good portion of that uncertainty can be traced right back to what Washington has and has not done on behalf of the American people.
Today, businesses that might otherwise be focusing their time and resources on growth and hiring, are instead forced to navigate a maze of regulatory red tape which they expect will only grow with time. Agencies like the IRS and bureaucrats in places like the Department of Health and Human Services are already preparing to impose more taxes and mandates, including those found in the president's health care law. These new rules and regulations will come at a time when the American people already pay $1.75 trillion annually to comply with the oppressive regulations already on the books.
To help encourage the spirit of free enterprise in America, we must shine a light on the tremendous real world impact of the red tape coming out of Washington. House Republicans have passed several proposals that would bring greater transparency and accountability to the regulatory process and help rein it in. We must do all we can to repeal the unnecessary authority being granted to Washington at the expense of individual and economic freedom.
We also need far more fundamental reform of government to make it less of a burden on families and small businesses. For example, we ought to put in place a tax code that compliments economic growth and helps American businesses remain competitive with those from other nations. That means a tax code that is simplified, with a broader base and lower rates, and without the special interest carve outs and loopholes that distort economic behavior.
When it comes to fueling our economy, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy -- one that responsibly utilizes America's vast resources and innovative talents so we have more American-made energy across the board. It makes no sense for Washington to pick winners and losers in the energy economy or the economy at large. When that happens, we get costly taxpayer-funded failures like Solyndra. In addition, we also get missed opportunities like the Keystone XL pipeline, which has the potential to provide a flow of energy from a reliable ally in Canada and the jobs that come with it.
Ultimately there is no way to solve our long-term economic challenges unless we do something about the mountain of debt piling up on the backs of our children and grandchildren. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen called our debt the biggest threat to our national security. We have to end the days of trillion dollar annual deficits and get our nation on a path to fiscal solvency.
The budget Republicans drafted, debated, and passed in the House of Representatives represents a positive vision for how to eventually pay off our debt responsibly by saving and strengthening vital programs like Medicare and Social Security. No area of government should be immune from scrutiny, and that includes the Department of Defense. However, it makes no sense to address what Admiral Mullen called our nation's biggest national security threat by undermining our national security capabilities in a reckless fashion.
We are fast approaching the day when the consequences of inaction in Washington will make it so our children and grandchildren face fewer opportunities for success and prosperity. The good news is there are positive solutions already on the table to help American families and entrepreneurs rebuild our economy. We will continue to fight to address the nation's challenges with solutions based upon fundamental American principles.