8/17/11: A Hoosier jobs agenda
My first eight months in office have coincided with the worst national economy since the Great Depression. It’s not surprising, then, that most Hoosiers see job creation as the area Congress should give the most attention.
Accordingly, my top priority this Congress has been to advance policies that will enable Americans to create more private sector jobs.
I figure out what those policies should look like, in part, by extensive travel around our southern Indiana district to learn first-hand about the challenges and opportunities facing Hoosier businesses.
From small business to factory floor to corporate board room, I hear constituents voice a number of recurring ideas about how our federal government can support job creation. As my colleagues and I consider how to kick start this sluggish economy, here are some top priorities of the “Hoosier Jobs Agenda” I will be fighting to implement.
Control spending. Business people know they can’t sustainably allow expenditures to exceed revenues, and they understand that Washington can’t do this either.
As Don Hickman, owner of computer services company ProsLink in Bloomington recently told me, “We know what’s coming. Government continues to borrow-and-spend, then taxpayers get stuck with a bill. That kills investment and job creation.”
Reduce tax complexity. Small businesses, in particular, are punished by our mind-numbing federal tax code. The code has become larded with so many special carve-outs that compliance costs are prohibitive. Too often, we find politicians rather than consumers picking winners and losers. Jeffersonville architect Wayne Estopinal asked me, “Why all the papers? Why so many rules? Why doesn’t Washington reduce special handouts, and allow businesses to spend time on serving customers rather than serving federal agencies? That will make America a better place to start and grow businesses.”
Require smarter regulation. Federal regulation has gotten out of control, and we should strike a responsible balance between important priorities like environmental protection and workplace safety on the one hand, and economic growth on the other. Ken Rush, a longstanding provider of southern Indiana stone and gravel in Sellersburg, told me that, “the feds can’t continue to pile on additional costs through endless paperwork, inspections, and new rules. The economy is already in the tank. We have to restore a sense of balance.”
Open foreign markets for American products. Domestic demand for goods and services is down, but Americans can win new customers overseas. “It’s a no-brainer, especially during a down economy. Washington needs to gain access to foreign markets for Indiana crops,” says Jackson County farmer Brian Thompson.
Washington will, and must, continue to debate particular aspects of our economic policy. But along the way, elected leaders must remember how much agreement exists among those whom we represent: Our fellow citizens who actually create the good-paying jobs that keep America running. Fortunately, I see the chance for bipartisan agreement on some of these commonsense solutions. But if any old Washington hands need a refresher course on job creation, I’ll suggest they listen to the people of southern Indiana.