A trampoline to propel our citizens to greater heights

Two things surprised me when I met with President Obama last week.

First, I was surprised by how sincere the president sounded when he addressed our group. Whether that sincerity was real or not time will tell, but his superb oratory abilities had a way of convincing you that it was. Much like former President Clinton, this president doesn’t “perform at” his audience, but makes you feel as though he is having a “conversation with” the audience. He spoke to emotions, laying out the problems our communities face with infrastructure and education and making his case that the only way to rectify such problems is by immediately increasing spending. While I agree there are improvements that can be made in those respective areas, I would draw a different conclusion as to the ways to fix those problems. But that’s the heart of the argument we’re about to have.

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The second thing I was surprised by was how opposite our worldviews really are. To the president and his counterparts in the Senate, it’s all about higher taxes to fund higher spending and increase regulation; in other words, a bigger and more intrusive government. That, they surmise, will lead us to a period of higher growth and economic prosperity. I do believe the president when he says he wants to get Americans back to work and reinvigorate our economy, but as Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government is not the answer to the problem. Government is the problem.”

What does this big government problem look like? It’s $16.5 trillion of debt, up 60 percent in four years; $3.70 per gallon of gas, up almost $2 per gallon in four years; a median home value of $178,900, a loss of nearly $20,000 in four years; and an average unemployment rate of 8.9 percent over the last four years. Although contradictory to its name, big government is anti-growth. 

A true step toward economic growth would be what we have seen House Republicans propose — a budget that balances in 10 years and a plan to empower unemployed workers. The Ryan budget introduced last week reduces deficits by $4.6 trillion over the next decade without raising taxes. Smaller deficits will keep interest rates low, which will enable small businesses to expand and hire. My state of North Carolina is home to more than 800,000 small businesses. We understand the importance of creating an environment where small business thrives. Our local economy depends on it. 

In addition to spending reductions, burdensome tax barriers should be removed. Americans currently spend 6 billion hours and $160 billion each year simply trying to solve our puzzling tax code. The Ryan budget improves this convoluted system by closing loopholes and consolidating tax rates down to two brackets: 10 percent and 25 percent. Americans can then plan accordingly for years to come.

There are other parts of the House Republicans’ budget that Washington should embrace. It approves the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which will create 20,000 direct jobs and 118,000 indirect jobs; it gives states flexibility so they can tailor programs like Medicaid and food stamps to fit people’s needs; and it repeals the president’s healthcare takeover, replacing it with patient-centered reforms. That will lead to a very different future than the Senate Democrats’ budget, which includes $1.5 trillion in increased tax revenue and opposes any spending cuts, except for the $240 billion to the Department of Defense.

In addition to proposing a comprehensive budget plan, House Republicans are advancing initiatives that empower the American worker. During a time of high unemployment, many people are forced to rely on the social safety net. While the safety net is important to have in place, the danger is that it can lull people into a life of dependency. We need to turn the hammock into a trampoline, propelling our citizens to greater heights. 

Last week, the House introduced a bill to preserve work requirements for welfare programs, overriding the administration’s decision to waive such requirements for participants. According to the Congressional Budget Office, waiving welfare work requirements increases welfare spending by $61 million. Policies like this do not offer hope to American families who are struggling to make ends meet. A permanent social welfare state robs a generation of the dignity of living off what they produce. We need to give people the tools they need to lift themselves out of hardship. Every American deserves a shot at the American dream.

House Republicans have a plan to change the course America is on, a pathway to fiscal sustainability that is only achieved through a vision of citizen empowerment and individual choice. The vision of the president and his Democratic counterparts outsources that same citizen empowerment to government. Remind me again, how’s that been working out for everyone so far?


Hudson represents North Carolina’s 8th congressional district.