Let’s get serious about jobs

During the last four years, the economy has surfaced as the primary issue on everyone’s mind. Today, this issue remains at the forefront. It is imperative that this Congress’s priority be to improve the economy; the only way to do that is by creating an environment for private-sector job growth. American families and business owners have been dealing with instability and uncertainty for far too long — it’s time to get a lasting recovery under way. In order to grow the economy and create jobs, we must get our massive debt under control, provide tax relief for job creators and remove burdensome mandates on our small businesses.

Our nation’s small businesses create seven of every 10 new jobs, and they employ just over half of the country’s private-sector workforce. In addition, small businesses create more than half of the non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP). If we want to get serious about our unemployment crisis, we must look at how to help small-business owners prosper. They are the entrepreneurs that can lead us out of this economic downturn. However, Washington must provide them with an environment in which they can thrive.

Our economy cannot grow and create jobs if government continues to spend money it doesn’t have. For the past several years, the overspending and overregulation has simply not worked. The unemployment rate was 4.6 percent when Democrats took control of Congress in 2006. The national debt has increased by $3.5 trillion on the president’s watch. During his first year in office, the unemployment rate increased from 7.8 percent to a high of 10.1 percent. Spending our way out of an economic downturn obviously hasn’t worked.

Another top priority for the new Republican majority is eliminating poorly conceived federal mandates that create hurdles for American business owners. On Feb. 9, I led the House Small Business Committee in a hearing on the burdensome 1099 mandate in the healthcare law. During the hearing, we examined the expanded 1099 requirements and heard testimony from small-business owners about the mandate’s administrative burdens and its potential negative impact on job creation, growth and business investment. We heard testimony from four small-business owners from Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland and North Carolina. Each entrepreneur described the strain that this mandate would put on their business, and expressed worry that one more unmanageable regulation could push them into failure.

It’s time for us to get serious about creating jobs. Last Thursday’s vote in the House to repeal the 1099 mandate was the right thing to do, but more needs to be done. Excessive spending hasn’t worked; the fact of the matter is that the more the government borrows, spends and regulates, the harder it is for business to access capital, grow and create jobs.

In the first two months of this Congress, we’ve voted to reduce the deficit by $700 billion and reduce spending by more than $2.6 trillion by repealing the job-destroying healthcare law. We’ve voted to save taxpayers $617 million by ending taxpayer funding for politicians or political activity, and we’ve banned congressional earmarks and cut our own budget by 5 percent, to lead by example. This is just the start.

As the national debt increases to an astonishing $14.1 trillion, climbing ever so closely toward our current GDP rate of $14.5 trillion, we realize that more must be done to create a better environment for our job creators. During our Small Business Committee hearings, owners of small firms are consistently telling me that they want Washington to get out of the way so they can do what they do best: create jobs and help move our economy forward. So, if we want to get serious about creating jobs, let’s listen to our innovators and entrepreneurs – they are the ones who create the jobs, not Washington.

Graves is the chairman of the House Small Business Committee.