Cantor Op-Ed: Job Creation -- A Priority Both Sides Can Agree On

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Cantor: Job Creation -- A Priority Both Sides Can Agree On
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Eric Cantor
September 09, 2011 

Last night, President Obama spoke to the nation about the jobs crisis facing America. Today, we will both be in Richmond speaking about job creation — no doubt a priority we would both agree is the most important issue facing the commonwealth and our country as a whole.

While I appreciate the president's renewed focus on jobs, the fact is that we have different opinions on the best way to actually produce them. For example, during the first days of his administration, I tried to work with President Obama on a bipartisan approach to economic growth. At that time, we argued that a large, deficit-financed, government stimulus bill was not the best way to improve our economic situation or create sustainable job growth. Given the net loss of 1.7 million jobs from the economy and the stimulus's failure to keep unemployment under 8 percent, as the administration claimed it would, we disagree with some who want to repeat the same mistakes. There is a better way.
 

Since January, I have been squarely focused on jobs and economic growth. My colleagues and I have put forth a comprehensive jobs plan and have passed more than a dozen pro-growth measures designed to create jobs. Unfortunately, only one of these jobs measures has been considered by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

This fall, the House will help small-business people and job creators by voting to repeal some of the excessive federal regulations that are preventing them from hiring workers. Without question, some regulations are necessary for safety and to protect our citizens' rights. But there are also regulations that unnecessarily increase costs across the board, particularly for millions of small-business people who are the primary job creators in America. The Obama administration currently is considering hundreds of new regulatory actions that are each estimated to cost our economy $100 million or more.

It was a welcome sign that last week, the president acknowledged the harm these regulations can cause and agreed to our request for the EPA to withdraw its new draft ozone regulations, which could have cost $90 billion. I hope this is the first of many steps that we can take together to reduce excessive regulation that is hampering job growth.

Another area for agreement could be common-sense initiatives to repair and improve our infrastructure. Currently, states such as Virginia are required to set aside 10 percent of their surface-transportation funds. These funds are required to be used on projects like transportation museums, educational programs for pedestrians and the operation of historic transportation facilities. While some of these may be worthy projects, the federal government often cannot distinguish the most pressing needs for an individual state. These are dollars that we could use on projects of greater importance without adding to our deficit. This would prioritize the way transportation money is invested, giving governors more flexibility and control over the types of projects that best suit their citizens.

Last night, the president also spoke extensively about extending the payroll tax. To be clear, in the current economic climate, no American should face a tax increase. Eight months ago, I supported a compromise that included payroll tax relief to ensure that tax rates remained the same for everyone. That said, the president should also look at some of our proposals that are more likely to spur the economic growth needed for jobs. Specifically, allowing small-business people to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income would immediately free up funds for them to reinvest and grow their businesses and retain and hire new employees.

We must focus on the long-term unemployed, especially in some minority communities where more than one in four African-Americans are unemployed. Nearly two years ago, I suggested to the president that we should reform our unemployment system to immediately help those who have been out of work for too long. A program that has already produced results on the state level called "Georgia Works" could serve as a blueprint for unemployment insurance reform on the national level. This program connects employers and job seekers in a way that leads to permanent employment.

Finally, manufacturers need our help. The more that they are able to export, the more they produce. The more that those manufacturers produce, the more workers they need. This means job creation. We can immediately expand markets for Virginia small businesses and manufacturers by passing three pending trade agreements, with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, which would — according to the Obama administration — support the creation of 250,000 jobs.

Today, both the president and I will be in Richmond to talk about our top priority — creating jobs. There will be some areas where we agree, and some where we don't. Good people can disagree. But Virginians, like most Americans, expect us to act responsibly and work together so that the economy can grow and people can get back to work. In a divided government, we shouldn't allow our differences to prevent us from making progress on areas where we can agree. Focusing on areas of common ground will provide real results for the tens of millions of Americans currently out of work or struggling paycheck to paycheck. I stand ready to work with the president to get the economy back on track. I hope the president shows a willingness to do the same.
 





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