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Camp Opening Statement: Hearing on Impediments to Job Creation

March 30, 2011

I think every member of this committee, Republican and Democrat alike, would agree on one basic fact: The U.S. economy is not growing fast enough.  If the pace of private sector job creation does not increase significantly, the national unemployment rate will remain unacceptably “high” for at least another five years.  Currently, there are 14 million Americans who are unemployed.  Millions more have given up even looking for a job. 

These families have already waited too long for Congress to figure out that we cannot spend our way to prosperity and job growth.  Our experience over the last two years is clear – more government intervention fueled by more debt and higher taxes is not the answer.  I’m not sure all my colleagues in Congress have figured this out yet and I hope they’ll listen carefully to what we’ll hear this morning.

During the President’s deficit commission, on which I, Mr. Ryan and Mr. Becerra from this Committee all served, we heard non-partisan testimony that once a nation’s total debt equaled 90 percent of its gross domestic product, that debt became a drag on economic growth.  In fact, it would slow growth by about one percent a year.  The fact that large amounts of government debt slows down job creation should not be lost on lawmakers, especially since according to CBO by the end of this year our total debt will be over 100 percent of our GDP.  The U.S. debt is so large that these experts warned it is costing us about 1 million jobs.

I’ve had a chance to preview the witnesses’ testimony, and they agree: the recent run up in the size and cost of government is holding our economy back.  The federal government has grown so large it is casting a dark shadow over our recovery and literally has the families and employers I talk to back in Michigan scared. Given that our debt well exceeds $40,000 for every man, woman and child in the country, you can understand why.

The American people know we are on an unsustainable path.  What they don’t know is when the system will come crashing down on them; when Washington will come looking to them for even more tax revenues or when the foreign governments that are financing our debt – especially China– will call on us to repay the loans we have taken out.

While fear can be a motivating factor, it has never propelled a nation to prosperity.  In our current situation, just the opposite appears to be true: fear over rising debt levels and higher taxes have scared families and employers stiff.  Small and large businesses alike are so uncertain about the future, they are even sitting on profits rather then invest them in this landscape of uncertainty.  Not surprisingly, the result has been anemic job creation. 

The American public understands intuitively what economic research confirms – that the smart policy is to control government spending.  Based on the testimony I’ve seen, we’ll hear a lot of expert agreement this morning that this is the most effective path to addressing both our nation’s fiscal crisis and our nation’s job’s crisis.  We need to get the government out of the way and let the private sector do what it does best – invest and create jobs.

The problems created by growing deficits and debt are not new, nor are they creation of one party alone.  But they have gotten much more severe and what many viewed as a future problem is firmly here today. 

The truth is, there is plenty of blame to go around.  But it would be shame if we fall into the habit of pointing fingers rather than working to find bipartisan solutions that allow government to carry out its important functions without imposing crippling tax burdens on its families and job creators. 

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses, and I will now yield to Ranking Member Levin for the purposes of his opening statement.