American families are weighed down by taxes

A Gallup poll released last week once again listed the economy as Americans’ top concern, and it’s no wonder. Nearly 9 million Americans are unemployed, and millions more are working part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs. Since President Obama took office, the average family’s income has declined by nearly $3,000. Meanwhile, the price of everything from healthcare to electricity has risen.

One of the main reasons Americans are still feeling economic pain years after the recession supposedly ended is the tax-and-regulate policy of the Obama administration. Taxes have risen by $1.6 trillion. Meanwhile, regulators have finalized almost $500 billion in new regulations, including 20,000 pages for ObamaCare. The consequence has been fewer jobs and reduced economic opportunity.

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Take the medical device tax. This one small part of the $1 trillion tax burden imposed by the president’s healthcare law has already eliminated thousands of jobs in the medical device industry and is on track to eliminate thousands more if it isn’t repealed.

If we want to get our economy back on a healthy footing, we have to address our nation’s bloated and convoluted tax code, which is discouraging job creation and making it more difficult for American families and businesses to prosper. Something is wrong when many American businesses are stuck paying the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, while others manage to avoid paying taxes altogether. We need a simpler and fairer tax system that eliminates loopholes and lowers rates, relieving the heavy tax burden on American families and ensuring that American businesses can remain competitive in the global economy. 

In addition to reforming the tax code, we have to eliminate the inefficient and ineffective government regulations that are slowing down our economy, eliminating jobs and driving up costs for Americans. In June the Obama administration announced what may be its most damaging regulation yet: new greenhouse gas rules that will drive up Americans’ energy bills and destroy jobs.

It’s difficult to overstate just how devastating this new national energy tax will be. The regulations will force the closure of coal-fired power plants, which means tens of thousands — possibly hundreds of thousands — of Americans will lose their jobs and careers. Whole communities will be devastated, as a majority of their members find themselves out of work and unable to pay their mortgages or healthcare costs. Worse, these new regulations will destroy families’ livelihoods and increase Americans’ energy bills for nothing, because the president’s proposed energy tax will have almost no effect on the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. This is government regulation at its worst, and eliminating this regressive tax will be one of the top priorities of the new Republican majority.

Republicans will also likely take up the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require the executive branch to seek congressional approval for any new regulation with an economic impact of more than $100 million. The REINS Act would prevent out-of-control government bureaucracies from imposing sweeping regulations like the president’s energy tax that would cripple the U.S. economy and destroy families’ livelihoods.

Although we may not be able to get everything fixed while Obama controls the White House, the new Republican majority is going to start taking steps toward improving our economy from Day One. There are a number of things we can do right away that have bipartisan support, things like repealing the medical device tax, which is opposed by a number of Democrats as well as Republicans. The Senate will also take up the dozens of House-passed jobs bills, some of which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, that have been gathering dust on Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) desk. We also need to reauthorize trade promotion authority, which Obama has called for in the past, so that we can open new markets abroad for American farmers and manufacturers. Taking these steps will show voters that Washington can work for them again.

Too many American families have spent the past few years worried about their economic security. It’s time to give them relief. Lifting the tax and regulatory burden will get our economy flourishing again, which will open up economic opportunities for American families and help them achieve the security and stability they’ve been looking for. We Republicans are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Thune is South Dakota’s junior senator, serving since 2005. He is the ranking member on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and also sits on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Finance; and Budget committees.