Pass a budget and embrace tax reform

J-O-B. In Washington, we hear that word spoken on the floors of Congress, see it plastered all over national headlines, and have watched the numbers of those without one hover between 8 percent and 9 percent each month. But in what I like to call real America — anywhere outside of Washington, D.C. — that three-letter word means something much more. It means food on the table. Gas in the car. Heat in the wintertime. It means everything.

After more than three years of lofty promises and trillions of dollars in federal spending, this administration still stands in the way of job growth. Its policies have been an abject failure, and it’s long past time for Congress to enact the common-sense reforms that Americans have been demanding.

Recently, I’ve been reminded of what can happen when good policy works hand-in-hand with sound economic opportunity. Georgians just received outstanding news that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the construction of the nation’s first new nuclear units in 30 years at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle. Additionally, last week Caterpillar announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility right in the heart of my district in Clarke and Oconee counties. Between these two opportunities, thousands of new permanent jobs will open up all across our state. That’s what real America wants and that’s what Washington should be working to deliver.

I’m ecstatic about this kind of economic progress in my home state, but I want to make sure there are more developments like this in Georgia and around the country so our nation’s unemployment numbers come down. If Congress follows a very simple blueprint, we can rebuild our economy with good fiscal policies, all while encouraging the growth of that one little word, J-O-B, that means so much to so many people. 

The first step to recovery is forcing Washington to pass a budget and live within its means like the rest of America. Then, lawmakers can focus on decreasing our massive federal deficit so that our economy can become profitable again and attract new businesses. That’s why I introduced H.R. 3883, the Budget or Bust Act. My legislation would require that congressional salaries be held hostage until Washington gets its work done and passes a budget. 

After passing a budget, it is imperative that we focus on overhauling our complex and downright confusing tax code. Just last week, President Obama presented his own plan for reforming the corporate tax code, but there are some unanswered questions regarding this proposal. How does it affect individual tax rates? How will it help grow the economy and encourage companies like Caterpillar to expand?

I fear this proposal is simply more of the president’s election-year trickery: increasing taxes on some individuals and some industries while boasting about lowering taxes for others. It was just a few weeks ago that Obama released his 2013 budget, which would raise individual tax rates on many small-business owners to nearly 40 percent and levy $2 trillion in new taxes, much of which will be paid for by job creators. Rather than raising some taxes to pay for other cuts, Congress should focus on enacting comprehensive tax reform and cutting taxes across the board. 

Lastly, we need to make sure that instead of punishing job creators by piling on more burdensome regulations, we are incentivizing them to expand. In 2011 alone, 79,000 pages of new regulations were printed in the Federal Register that affect job creators. Moreover, a recent Gallup survey asked hundreds of small-business owners about the most pressing problem they currently face. Their answer? Complying with government regulations. By burying our job creators in a regulatory mess, it’s not surprising that the economy grew just 1.7 percent in 2011. We have to start moving in the opposite direction.

While Washington rhetoric won’t create jobs, Washington policies can either support job growth or they can deter it. If these three principles — responsible budgeting, common-sense tax reforms and far fewer regulations — are supported, then a J-O-B stops being a word Washington throws around and starts being a real thing, for real people, in real America. Let’s make it happen. 

— Broun serves on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.