Balanced Budget Amendment
Washington must take aggressive steps to address our growing national debt, in order to reverse the damaging economic consequences we are experiencing as a result, and prevent the inevitable and difficult decisions that will have to be made if we do not change course. No single act of Congress would have greater impact on eliminating the country’s annual deficits and reducing our national debt than a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
Year after year, the federal government fails to make fiscally responsible choices. Despite overtaxing the American people, Washington routinely spends much more than it takes in. Statutory restraints, such as the failed Gramm-Rudman-Hollings legislation and “PAYGO” rules, have proven ineffective and impossible to enforce because simple majorities in Congress can alter, weaken, dismantle, and ultimately discard fiscal reforms.
Because the Constitution requires two-thirds of Congress and three-quarters of the states to amend, only a constitutional amendment will force Congress to make fiscally responsible decisions year after year, prioritize spending appropriately, use taxpayer money wisely, and eliminate future deficits. It is the only legislative tool that credibly guarantees permanent enforcement of spending restraints.
Under the principle of fiscal responsibility, the federal government should spend no more than it takes in, and only run deficits in very limited, specific circumstances. Washington should use reasonable budget projections to forecast future revenue and only spend money on its constitutional obligations. Budget deficits should require Congress to prioritize spending and make necessary cuts to wasteful, duplicative, and ineffective programs.
Unfortunately, Washington rarely, if ever, operates under the principles of fiscal responsibility. The current system is set up to spend too much and borrow more It is a downward spiral with only negative economic consequences.
Simple reforms like spending caps, deficit targets, and “pay-as-you-go” have proven ineffective at forcing fiscal responsibility in Congress. I believe we must operate under the framework of a balanced budget amendment so that Congress is unable to spend beyond its means unless it is truly necessary.
A balanced budget amendment would not dictate where we direct specific resources or tell the federal government where to reduce spending. Future Congresses would still determine our spending priorities. However, it would force Washington to act fiscally responsible way with those limited taxpayer resources and bring greater accountability to government.
The current federal tax code is an abomination. It is too complex, too expensive to comply with, discourages productivity, picks winners and losers in certain industries, provides poor economic incentives, and relies too heavily on too few taxpayers to fund government activities. We need fundamental tax reform to fix the inefficiencies in how the federal government raises revenue.
There are a number of proposals I agree with in principle that would simplify the federal tax code. For example, a consumption tax and a flat income tax would vastly reduce the compliance burden on taxpayers. Also, these plans would also remove the disincentives for businesses and individuals to be more productive and lead to greater economic growth, prosperity and job creation.
Any tax reform, however, must be coupled with an insistence that the federal government also spend taxpayer money wisely and only on those things for which it has explicit constitutional authority.
The federal government runs massive deficits not because it taxes too little, but because it spends too much. The current system encourages overspending and lacks enforceable spending restraints that require the politicians in Washington to prioritize our constitutional obligations and make tough decisions. Furthermore, most in Congress believe we can continue to borrow trillions of dollars to pay for everything rather than reform, cut, and eliminate wasteful programs.
The only way to get federal spending under control is with a strong, structural, and enforceable restraint like a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Only then will Republicans and Democrats be forced to prioritize the nation’s constitutional obligations and put the country on a path to fiscal sustainability.
Jobs Through Economic Growth
There is nothing more important to this country right now than ending our unemployment crisis. Since 2008, we have attempted to “create or save” jobs with bailouts, bureaucracy, and billions in wasteful spending. None of it has worked. Economic freedom and prosperity go hand in hand, so it should be no surprise that bigger government has failed to produce the kind of economic growth that would result in millions of new jobs.
Americans did not build the largest economy in the world because the federal government told us to do so. As has always been the case, the best job creation policy Washington could pursue would be to get out of the way. Out of the way of energy companies that would move us towards energy independence if only we would let them. Out of the way of small business owners who must fight through thousands of pages of regulations without an army of lawyers to help. Out of the way of the $1.4 trillion in foreign profits that could be brought into the domestic economy if doing so wasn’t so prohibitively expensive.
I support policies that will end the federal government’s attempts to micromanage the states and the economy. Below is one set of such policies:
Require a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution - (S.J.Res.10, Sen. Hatch) Limit the ability of Washington to raise taxes to pay for runaway spending and would enshrine firm tax and spending limitations in our Constitution. Job creators will have certainty that Washington will not continue to grow unchecked and consume more and more resources that would otherwise be available to fuel job creation.
Enact Enhanced Rescission Authority - (S.102, Sens. McCain & Carper) This bipartisan proposal would give the President the statutory line-item veto authority to reduce wasteful spending. This is an important tool to ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely and efficiently. Congress would vote up-or-down on proposed spending cuts.
Reduce and Reform Individual, Small Business and Corporate Taxation A simplified tax system will keep more money in the hands of consumers, small businesses and job-creators. Reduce individual income tax rates to a maximum of 25 percent no more than three marginal rates. Within 60 days, the Senate Finance Committee will report back on recommended changes in credits and deductions to make this revenue neutral.
Reduce the top corporate tax rate to no more than 25%. Within 60 days, the Senate Finance Committee will report changes in credits, deductions and subsidies, with priority given to eliminating all industry-specific provisions and revenue neutrality.Repatriation and Territorial Reform Our current corporate tax code is outdated and is a major reason why there is up to $1.4 trillion in foreign earnings trapped overseas in countries where U.S.-based multinational companies do business. Under a reformed territorial system of corporate taxation, this plan would create a permanent incentive for companies repatriating foreign earnings to the U.S. economy.
Withholding Tax Relief Act - (S. 164, Sens. Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe, David Vitter) Removes the undue burden on businesses of all sizes by repealing the provision in the tax code requiring federal, state and local governmental entities to withhold 3% of payments due to private vendors who supply their goods and services.
Repeal the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act - (S.192, Sen. DeMint) Repealing and replacing Obamacare will remove over $550 billion in new taxes, over $300 billion in higher health care costs, and $2,100 in increased family insurance premiums from employers and workers. The job-destroying policies of Obamacare are estimated to cost the economy at least
800,000 jobs and hit small businesses especially hard. Studies have demonstrated Obamacare – not yet fully implemented – is a huge driver of unemployment. Economists have referred to the passage of Obamacare as a “structural break in job growth,” an economic term describing the correlation between a single event and resulting job-loss. Obamacare ruined our 2010 recovery slowing private sector hiring to one-tenth of its previous clip, down to just 6,500 jobs per month. In addition, nearly 80 percent of small businesses and 70 percent of all businesses may be forced to drop their current health care plans.
Financial Takeover Repeal - (S.712, Sen. DeMint) We need to lift the burdens the Dodd-Frank bill placed on community banks and the small businesses that depend on them for financing, from oppressive new regulations to the resulting uncertainty that prevents growth. Repealing Dodd-Frank will also significantly reduce financing costs for consumers and businesses, as well as reduce costs to manufacturers in hedging their risks in the financial markets. Research compiled by the Financial Services Roundtable indicates that the cumulative weight of new financial rules, from Dodd-Frank to similar efforts abroad, could cost the U.S. economy 4.6 million jobs by 2015.
Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS Act) - (S.299, Sen. Paul) The REINS Act would require Congressional approval by joint resolution of any federal rule that would cost the economy $100 million or more.
Regulation Moratorium and Jobs Preservation Act - (S.1438, Sen. Ron Johnson) Prohibits any federal agency from issuing new regulations until the unemployment rate is equal to or less than 7.7 percent (the unemployment rate in January 2009).
Freedom from Restrictive Excess Executive Demands and Onerous Mandates Act - (S.1030, Sens. Snowe and Coburn) Streamlines and strengthens the Regulatory Flexibility Act by requiring regulators to include “indirect” economic impacts in small-business analyses, requiring periodic review and sunset of existing rules, and expanding small business review panels as a requirement for all federal agencies, instead of just the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Unfunded Mandates Accountability Act - (S. 1189, Sen. Portman) Requires agencies specifically to assess the potential effect of new regulations on job creation and to consider market-based and non-governmental alternatives to regulation; broadens the scope of Unfunded Mandate Reform Act to include rules issued by independent agencies and rules that impose direct or indirect economic costs of $100 million or more; requires agencies to adopt the least burdensome regulatory option that achieves the goal of the statute authorizing the rule; creates a meaningful right to judicial review of an agency’s compliance with the law.
The Government Litigation Savings Act - (S.1061, Sen. Barrasso) Reforms the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) by disallowing the reimbursement of attorney’s fees and costs to well-funded special interest groups who repeatedly sue the federal government. The bill retains federal reimbursements for individuals, small businesses, veterans and others who must fight in court against a wrongful government action. By eliminating taxpayer-funded reimbursement of attorney’s fees for wealthy special interest groups, the legislation helps eliminate repeated, procedural lawsuits that delay permitting, exploration and land management.
Employment Protection Act of 2011 - (S.1292, Sen. Toomey) Requires the EPA to analyze the impact on employment levels and economic activity before issuing any regulation, policy statement, guidance document, endangerment finding, or denying any permit. Each analysis is required to include a description of estimated job losses and decreased economic activity due to the denial of a permit, including any permit denied under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act - (S.1528, Sen. Johanns) Prevents the EPA from regulating dust in rural America, while still maintaining protections to public health under the Clean Air Act. The EPA is currently considering a dust standard that would, by the agency’s own admission, double the number of counties that are in nonattainment status and put activities like tilling soil, harvesting crops and driving down unpaved roads under the purview of federal regulations. Under this bill, the EPA would still be allowed to regulate dust, but only after demonstrating scientific evidence of substantial adverse health effects of farm dust.
National Labor Relations Board Reform - (S. 1523, Sen. Graham) From back-door card-check, to threatening jobs in South Carolina, the out-of-control National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is paying back union officials at the expense of worker rights and jobs. To create more jobs, legislation prohibiting the NLRB from stopping new plants and legislation to prevent coercive, quick-snap union elections should be passed.
Government Neutrality in Contracting Act - (S. 119, Sen. Vitter) Repeals the President’s order requiring government-funded construction projects to only use union labor. This would reduce costs of federal jobs projects by as much as 18 percent.
Financial Regulatory Responsibility Act - (S. 1615, Sen. Shelby) Requires financial regulators to conduct consistent economic analysis on every new rule they propose, provide clear justification for the rules, and determine the economic impacts of proposed rulemakings, including their effects on growth and net job creation.
Regulatory Responsibility for our Economy Act - (S. 358, Sen. Roberts) Codifies and strengthens President Obama's January 18th Executive Order that directs agencies within to review, modify, streamline, expand, or repeal those significant regulatory actions, that are duplicative, unnecessary, overly burdensome or would have significant economic impacts on Americans. It directs meaningful review and possible revocation of regulations counter to our nation's economic growth.
Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act - (H.R. 872, Rep. Bob Gibbs) Eliminates a new duplicate EPA regulation that will cost millions of dollars to implement without providing additional environmental protection. The current rules for pesticides, which have been in place for decades, will remain in force.
DOMESTIC ENERGY JOB PROMOTION
The Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy, and Deficit Reduction Act - (S.706, Sen. Vitter) Will require the Interior Department to move forward with offshore energy exploration, and create a timeframe for environmental and judicial review.
The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act - (S.1226, Sen. Murkowski) Eliminates confusion and uncertainty surrounding the EPA’s decision-making process for air permits, which is delaying energy exploration in the Alaskan Outer-Continental Shelf (OCS). It will create over 50,000 jobs and produce one million barrels of oil a day.
The American Energy and Western Jobs Act - (S.1027, Sen. Barrasso) This bill streamlines the preleasing, leasing and developmental process for drilling on public land and requires this Administration to create goals for American oil and gas production.
Mining Jobs Protection Act - (S.468, Sens. McConnell, Inhofe, Paul) Requires the EPA to “use or lose” their 404 permitting review authority. Under this bill the EPA will have 60 days to voice concerns about a permit application, or the permit moves forward. Any concerns voiced by the EPA would need to be published in the Federal Register within 30 days.
Energy Tax Prevention Act - (S.482, Sen. Inhofe) Prohibits the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. It is estimated that greenhouse gas regulation could result in a loss to the economy of as much as $75 billion and 1.4 million jobs by 2014.
Repeal Restrictions on Government Use of Domestic Alternative Fuels Repeal Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which prohibits federal agencies from contracting for alternative fuels, such as coal-to-liquid fuel. This provision stifles the coal industry and puts our national security at risk by limiting the Pentagon’s ability to get its fuels from domestic sources.
Public Lands Job Creation Act - (Sen. Heller) Eliminates a burdensome and unnecessary delay in approval of projects on federal lands by allowing the permitting process to move forward unless the Department of the Interior objects within 45 days. This will streamline the permitting process for domestic energy and mineral production on BLM lands without compromising environmental analysis.
Renew Trade Promotion Authority - (S. Amdt. 626, Sen. McConnell) Provide the President with fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements that will eliminate foreign trade barriers and open new markets for American goods.