By Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) - 01/18/11 10:50 PM EST
Following a very emotional week of national healing, Congress has returned to carry out the work of the people. As we keep Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and all the victims of the attack in our prayers, House Republicans look forward to engaging in a thoughtful and vigorous debate to reshape the role government plays in our society.
Operating under the faulty assumption that growing bigger and doing more is necessarily better, government over the years has grown inefficient, unfocused and wasteful. Progressively higher spending of tax dollars has only translated into progressively poorer results for all Americans.
Our approach to governing is simple: Cut and grow. Cut spending and job-destroying regulation and grow private-sector jobs and the economy. With everything we do in Congress, we will ask the following questions: Are our efforts addressing job creation and the economy; are they cutting spending; and are they shrinking the size of the federal government while protecting and expanding individual liberty? If not, why are we doing it?
In order to power America forward, our job creators need certainty. They need to know that government is on the same page and won’t make it harder for them to compete. Last month, America took a step in the right direction by heading off a major tax increase on families and small businesses. But there is still much more work to be done.
Perhaps the most potent stimulus Congress can provide to the economy is to send a credible signal that we are serious about cutting spending and eliminating anti-jobs regulation. Our surging debt burden — now $14 trillion — hangs over the economy like a dark cloud waiting to unleash a storm of inflation, higher taxes and higher borrowing costs upon businesses and families. Only when the cloud is lifted can we get on the path to long-term growth.
After cutting our own congressional budgets by 5 percent earlier this month, our majority is set to repeal last year’s healthcare bill in full. The trillion-dollar legislation, which raises costs for consumers and does not allow people to keep the care they have if they like it, has impeded job creation by adding an additional layer of concern for small businesses already reluctant to hire.
To deal with the debt, Republicans have implemented new House rules that make it easier for Congress to cut spending and grow the economy. For example, all mandatory spending increases must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.
Our majority will trim spending during the current fiscal year down to 2008 levels. In addition, we will hold a vote each week Congress is in session on at least one spending cut.
On the regulatory side, we plan to conduct rigorous oversight. We intend to roll back any regulations — particularly those craftily tucked into the massive healthcare and financial regulatory bills — that are hindering the fragile economic recovery.
Republicans hope President Obama will prove willing to work with us to cut both red tape and unnecessary spending. We encourage him to follow through on his anti-earmark signals by persuading House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to adopt earmark moratoriums already implemented by House and Senate Republicans. And we look forward to hearing his ideas on how we can boost U.S. competitiveness through streamlining the tax code.
Republicans are determined to provide a results-driven Congress. Our goal is to lift America up by creating economic opportunity and encouraging people to take responsibility so that they can achieve success. We need to wean America off its dependence on debt and government programs and create a more prosperous future rooted in long-term investment, strong businesses, innovation and entrepreneurship.
House Republicans opened the new Congress by cutting our own congressional operating budgets, saving the taxpayers $35 million. I hope that federal agencies across the spectrum will follow suit and find ways to cut their own budgets. If not, we’re happy to do it for them.
Rep. Cantor is the House Majority Leader.