Regulations and spending stand in way of job creation

The headlines may be focused on spending, but anyone who believes spending cuts are not directly related to job creation has not been paying attention the past couple of years. Spending $1 trillion on the stimulus brought us nothing but increased debt and 21 consecutive months of 9 percent or above unemployment, which has just now inched down to 8.9 percent. Federal spending is up 36 percent compared to 2007, yet we’ve lost 2.5 million jobs since the stimulus passed.

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It should be abundantly clear by now that the federal government simply cannot create private-sector jobs. What we can do is remove barriers to job creation by cutting spending and eliminating regulatory burdens.

No policy makes the connection between jobs and government overreach clearer than ObamaCare. What could be worse for job creation than a law that increases costs for each and every new hire? Employers in my district are genuinely worried that the law’s burdensome costs and regulations will jeopardize their ability to afford even their existing workers, much less make new hires. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirms that ObamaCare is expected to destroy 800,000 full-time jobs by 2021. That’s a setback we can’t afford when, according to Brookings Institute projections, we need to create 208,000 jobs per month to reach pre-recession employment levels by 2023. Voting to repeal ObamaCare was a vote to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Likewise, repeal of the law’s universally loathed 1099 mandate will save job creators untold hours and dollars completing paperwork for every transaction of $600 or more. However, businesses remain at-risk from crippling regulations that failed in Congress but have received new life through federal agency fiat. The Environmental Protection Agency is one of the biggest offenders cited by job creators. If Obama’s EPA has its way, cap-and-trade will be resurrected to raise energy costs for businesses and families, while hydraulic fracturing regulations will cost thousands of jobs in the oil and natural-gas industry at a time when we need clean, domestic alternatives to volatile foreign oil supplies just as much as we need new jobs.

In addition to the specific threats overregulation poses to job creation, the general uncertainty created by our crushing national debt creates a chilling effect on hiring and investment. Officials like Debt Commission Chairman Erskine Bowles described the debt as “a cancer” that “is truly going to destroy the country from within.” Former Government Accountability Office Comptroller General David Walker predicted future generations will “read about the consumer society and conspicuous consumption, but mainly in history texts.”

The severity of the crisis is obvious, and employers and investors know that something has to give — and soon. Until they know what form the solution will take, it’s hard to blame them for deciding to avoid taking risks. That is why President Obama’s astounding lack of fiscal leadership is so disappointing. His 2012 budget includes $1.6 trillion in new taxes even though balancing the budget through tax increases is obviously not an option. Based on CBO projections of combined deficits between 2012 and 2021, each American household would be on the hook for $59,489 in tax increases to break even over the next 10 years.

Spending freezes will not get the job done either. We’ve gone from a $160 billion deficit under the 2007 Republican budget resolution to a $1.5 trillion deficit for 2011. The gulf between those figures makes two things clear: President Obama’s proposal to freeze spending at current, inflated levels is laughably inadequate, and House Republicans’ $100 billion in spending cuts is just a starting point.

It is imperative that we bring spending down to sustainable levels and that we implement reforms to rescue entitlements from bankruptcy. Every day we don’t act, the problem gets worse and job-killing uncertainty persists. House Republicans have made significant progress in removing the obstacles to job creation generated by ObamaCare, burdensome regulations and unsustainable spending. When President Obama and congressional Democrats oppose these necessary measures — without offering any alternatives — they are not only opposing fiscal responsibility, they are standing in the way of new jobs.

Cole is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.