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Democrats Should Shelve New Taxes and Work With GOP on Alternatives

January 20, 2010

While the White House keeps changing their job-calculation methods in a desperate effort to claim their so-called stimulus bill is working, Americans are still asking: Where are the jobs? Facts are facts. Last year, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats spent nearly $1 trillion we don’t have on a misguided, wasteful and ineffective stimulus package. At the time, Democrats claimed the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. Today, however, the national unemployment rate stands at 10 percent — 25 percent higher than the administration promised. A year after the bill was signed into law, we are 6.6 million American jobs short of the administration’s stimulus forecast for the end of 2010, and no one is predicting we will create the half-million jobs per month that it would take to make up that shortfall in 2010.

Yet despite the true state of our economy, Dr. Christina Romer, chairwoman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, recently stated that the stimulus “has done exactly what we have anticipated it would do.” That must have come as a real shock to the record 10 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits.

Adding insult to injury, on the same day Dr. Romer claimed the administration had somehow created or saved 2 million jobs in 2009, while in reality 3 million were eliminated, the administration also admitted it is “not possible to track” stimulus jobs. The mammoth discrepancy between the White House spin and the truth is not lost on the American people.

The failure of stimulus, however, is not the only hurdle we face in getting Americans back to work. Businesses do not hire in an unstable and uncertain economy and will not make needed investments when this Congress is considering imposing higher taxes and massive new regulations. The current Democrat legislative agenda has employers scratching their heads. How much higher will their taxes be? How much are energy costs going to be? How much will the mandates and regulations of the 1,000-plus page healthcare bill add to their healthcare costs? The result of the unpredictability caused by these Democrat initiatives exacerbates job losses and freezes potential new hiring.

In 2009 alone, House Democrats passed more than $1.171 trillion in net tax increases. The largest tax hike is still looming over employers — a net of $850 billion in higher taxes under Democrats’ “Cap & Tax” energy tax hike and hundreds of billions in the Democrats’ healthcare bill.

Even if those threats are defeated, the uncertainty of the upcoming expiration of the ’01 and ’03 tax cuts and the lack of a permanent solution to the alternative minimum tax (AMT) loom large and discourage employers from hiring.

Job creation should have been the top domestic priority for this Congress and the administration from the very beginning of 2009. Yet, the White House and congressional Democrats spent 2009 on their massive tax-and-spend agenda that has made the job market worse, not better. And just last week, the administration proposed a new tax that would limit lending and make it harder for companies to grow and hire new workers. If the administration is going to focus on the economy in 2010, I suggest they start by shelving new taxes that could further delay a recovery.

Clearly, it is time President Obama and Democrats in Congress start working with Republicans on a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. As I and House Republican leaders told the president last month, Republicans are committed to getting Americans back to work, and we are committed to reaching across the aisle to get the job done.

We have identified several ways to tear down obstacles to economic growth and help create jobs, which we presented to President Obama. These include:

  • Preventing federal tax increases — the government should not be raising taxes during times of high unemployment;
  • Freezing domestic discretionary spending at 2008 levels to demonstrate fiscal restraint;
  • Reforming the unemployment benefits system to help workers better prepare for new jobs through education and training;
  • Suspending the federal unemployment tax to help offset the cost of state payroll tax increases;
  • Providing incentives for companies to create jobs in the U.S. rather than overseas; and
  • Completing work on pending free trade agreements, which will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Fifteen million Americans are unemployed today, and millions more are worried about the security of their jobs. Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin rightly warned that an agenda of “higher taxes, easier unionization, protectionist trade policy, intrusive energy and environmental regulation, expansive and costly healthcare, and enormous budget deficits as far as the eye can see remains the single greatest impediment to the creation of jobs by small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Democrats should heed that warning and put the economy and jobs for the American people first.

Camp is the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee.