By REP. MIKE SIMPSON
With more than 14 million people out of work, the economy in a holding pattern and the stock market on a roller-coaster ride, Americans are frustrated, and rightly so. The president's public approval rating is low and many perceive that Congress is only spinning its wheels. Those who still have jobs have seen hits to their savings and investments while their cost of living has increased. The heart of the problem is that unemployment stubbornly sits above 9 percent, which continues to devastate our economy.
As I talk to employers throughout Idaho about the economic challenges they face, the common theme I hear is that tax and regulatory uncertainty has forced them to wait out the economic storm rather than investing in their businesses and creating new jobs. To provide the long-term stability that job creators need, I believe there are three important steps that Congress must take to put people back to work and get our economy going again.
First, we must fundamentally reform entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. We can no longer afford to look the other way on this issue—we must ensure that these crucial programs can continue to provide a safety net to those who depend on them in their daily lives. If we fail to do this, not only will those currently paying into the system see no benefit from their investment, but the programs will bankrupt our economy and collapse under their own weight. We can and must improve these programs now without unfairly impacting the benefits already earned by those in or near retirement.
Second, fundamental tax reform must be a critical component of any plan to address our debt crisis once and for all. Much has been made of the debate about whether to raise taxes to balance the budget, but I believe the problem goes much deeper than that. We must make fundamental changes to our tax code to promote economic growth while improving our ability to reduce the deficit. The tax code should be a simple system intended to raise the necessary revenue for appropriate government functions, not a complex system directing social behavior.
Finally, and I believe most importantly, we must put an end to the Obama administration's over-zealous regulatory agenda. Unfortunately, agencies like the EPA are the wet blanket preventing businesses from investing in job creation. It is imperative that we create certainty in the marketplace and assure businesses that it is safe to start hiring people without the threat of agencies like the EPA imposing regulations that are unreasonable and unnecessary and seem to change every few years, compounding and multiplying costs.
Idaho families are in the trenches, facing difficult financial decisions and trying to do the best they can in the midst of serious economic challenges. Progress in Congress on entitlement, tax and regulatory reform would send a message to the American people that Congress is serious about getting people working again and turning the economy around.
Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican, represents Idaho's 2nd Congressional District.