By Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) - 01/15/08 06:26 PM EST
Every day, hard-working moms and dads face a rising cost of living that only seems to be getting worse. Gasoline prices are higher, healthcare expenses are rising, and mortgage costs are volatile. Instead of getting ahead, more and more middle-class families feel like they are losing ground. This uncertainty is a growing concern — and one Congress should address in a bipartisan fashion. During the first year of the 110th Congress, the majority wielded its newfound power by attempting to advance a polarizing, fiercely partisan economic agenda built on bigger government, higher taxes and more spending. But this year, we have an opportunity to start fresh.
Over the course of the next several weeks, Congress will face some major tests that will help us determine whether or not bipartisanship is within reach, and these tests will undoubtedly set the tone for the balance of the year. We’ll have an opportunity to make the Protect America Act permanent to close a loophole in our nation’s surveillance laws that bars intelligence officials from acting quickly on vital information to protect our troops and the American people. We’ll have a chance to continue supporting those who protect our freedom and security in Iraq and Afghanistan by giving them every resource they need — without hamstringing their commanders — to continue routing al Qaeda. And, perhaps most immediately, we’ll face a series of key choices on the economy.
In 2001, as we faced a recession, Congress and the president resisted the urge to simply increase federal spending many times over and call it an “economic stimulus package.” Rather, we empowered individuals and small businesses to bring the economy back to life by putting more money into their pockets through tax relief. And it worked. The tax reductions of 2001 and 2003 kept this economy afloat through a recession, corporate scandals, 9/11, and a two-front war. Now, as we face an economic downturn, let’s hope that we’ve learned from history and will work in a bipartisan way to make this tax relief permanent so middle-class families and businesses won’t face an imminent, massive tax hike. And equally as important, let’s expand upon it to provide even more tax relief right away.
At the same time, we must be mindful of the axiom “first, do no harm.” For example, amid today’s economic uncertainty, Democrats have stubbornly advocated tax hikes on middle-class families to pay for their agenda of pork-barrel spending and bigger government. In other words, as American families and small businesses feel the budget pinch, the majority is asking them to bankroll more wasteful spending through higher taxes. It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize economist to figure out that this irresponsible agenda would make matters far worse — not better — for middle-class families and employers. And that’s why congressional Republicans opposed it every step of the way.
But opposition alone won’t get the job done this year. What middle-class families and small businesses need instead is tax relief and real change in how Washington spends their hard-earned money. We hope Democratic leaders will call a retreat in their tax-and-spend, mandate-and-regulate War on American Jobs and work with Republicans to help families and small businesses overcome the challenges they face.
In recent weeks, Democratic leaders have renewed their promises of bipartisanship, particularly when it comes to the economy. For the sake of the single mom trying to pay her child’s tuition, the middle-class family of four trying to keep up with its mortgage, and the small business trying to keep its head above water while providing good-paying jobs to its employees, I hope they’re more serious about bipartisanship this year than they were last year. It’s time to work together to protect middle-class families and small businesses from a massive tax hike and put more money in the pocketbooks of those who need it most.
Boehner is the House minority leader.
SPECIAL REPORTS: CONGRESS RETURNS 2008
Congressional Women’s Caucus continues legacy
FAA reauthorization bill needs attention early in this session
We should strengthen consumer protections
One-party rule in a divided Congress sure to fail
In 2008, let’s hope that the majority retreats in its War on American Jobs
‘New Direction Congress’ committed to preserving safer, happier America