It’s time for a commitment to real growth

For more than a year, Americans across the country have been asking, “Where are the jobs?” as our economy continues to struggle. Unemployment still hovers around 10 percent. New-home sales have plummeted to a record low. Retail sales remain weak, and consumer confidence has dropped to the lowest level in 10 months. Businesses are skittish — not only about what our economic future holds, but also about the job-killing policies Washington has in store.

 After failing for a full year to craft real solutions to address the problems in our economy, President Barack Obama and majority leaders now say that job creation is their No. 1 priority. However, their actions will speak louder than words.

The unstable policies of government bailouts, skyrocketing federal spending, higher taxes and record national debt have had a devastating effect on small businesses across the country. It’s hard to take the president’s promise to help small businesses and job creation seriously after he submitted a budget to Congress that is chock-full of reckless spending, soaring taxes and higher debt. Actions speak louder than words, and the president’s actions indicate a clear disconnect with the needs of small-business owners in America.

As ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, I know that entrepreneurs need certainty in this economy. Business owners are hesitant to hire workers, borrow money or expand operations because they are unsure whether a stable economic recovery is underway.  This uncertainty stems directly from damaging Washington policies that threaten small-business investments and growth.

Small-business owners think that Washington has turned its back on their needs. The constant threat of tax increases, new government mandates and more red tape and regulations is intimidating. According to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, the cost of federal regulations for small businesses totals more than $1 trillion — for businesses with fewer than 20 employees, that’s $7,647 per employee.

Instead of holding our entrepreneurs back, we must work to restore their trust in Washington by demonstrating that Congress and the administration have the best interests of America’s businesses at heart. It is time to shelve the job-killing healthcare, cap-and-trade and financial regulatory reform bills and start over on new legislation that will address the problems faced by our nation without punishing our economic growth. We must also make a renewed commitment to fiscal responsibility and show small-business owners that Washington is capable of making the same tough budgetary decisions that entrepreneurs must make every day.

Congress has started to take important steps to get credit flowing to small firms. In the House, we passed a bipartisan capital access bill to improve the likelihood that small businesses can obtain a loan. Additionally, Republicans have offered a commonsense plan to help entrepreneurs succeed by reducing regulatory barriers to job creation, extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, expanding exports and immediately freezing domestic discretionary spending.

This spending freeze alone would save $53 billion and send small businesses a clear message that the federal government is serious about tightening its belt.

Small businesses deserve a commitment to economic growth and job creation. Our economy depends on it, and our nation’s innovators cannot wait any longer. As we move forward in the 111th Congress, the actions of the majority and the administration will speak louder than words. Let’s enact real solutions that will reduce spending, help our small businesses grow and put people back to work.

Graves is the ranking Republican on the House Small Business Committee.