Weekly remarks: GOP's Pat Toomey says regs kill jobs; Obama says new jobs his top priority
Hi, I’m Senator Pat Toomey from the great state of Pennsylvania, and I’m pleased to have this opportunity to share a few thoughts with you today.
Like a lot of Americans all around the country, I’m deeply concerned about the lack of job growth and our stagnant economy.
Now President Obama inherited a weak economy, but by nearly every measure, he has made the economy worse. Over two years ago, his administration told us that passing his $787 billion stimulus bill would keep unemployment below 8 percent.
Instead, since the stimulus was enacted, our economy has lost more than 1.3 million jobs and the unemployment rate has averaged over 9 percent.
Today, fewer people are working; gas prices are higher; home values are lower; wages are weaker; healthcare is more expensive; taxes are heading higher and our federal deficits are much larger than when President Obama took office.
Clearly, the policies of this administration are not working.
So, what went wrong? Well, a big part of the problem has been job-killing regulations. Every....
This is what I hear when I travel across my home state of Pennsylvania. Whether I am touring a manufacturing plant, talking to dairy farmers or energy producers, visiting a trucking company, or meeting with medical device makers, the message I hear is the same: The crushing burden of federal regulations is making it increasingly difficult for them to grow their new businesses, hire new workers, and in some cases, just keep their doors open.
For example, it can sometimes take years for a new life-saving medical device to be approved by the FDA. A hot dog factory can wait months for federal regulators to approve food product labels, throwing their entire production schedule off.
Future investment in broadband networks has been jeopardized by burdensome new Internet regulations adopted by the FCC. New financial services mandates are raising the cost of credit. And the National Labor Relations Board is now dictating to companies where they can locate new plants.
These are just a few examples out of hundreds, maybe thousands. And, the number of regulations has only increased since President Obama came into office. The Federal Register, containing all federal regulations, now totals a whopping 49,000 pages, covering everything from paint, to dust, cement, to cars, medicine and livestock.
With so many burdens and the threat of new obstacles in the future, it’s not hard to understand why job creators are leery of assuming the risk and costs that come with starting a new business or expanding an existing company. As a former small business owner who ran several restaurants with my brothers, I can attest to the burden these regulations impose on our job creators.
Despite all these obstacles, I remain very optimistic about our future. Americans are still the hardest working, most industrious, and innovative, most entrepreneurial people in the world. And if we just let them, they’ll build more factories, start more businesses, hire more workers, produce more goods, and create more inventions.
But first, government has to get out of the way.
Course, we need some regulations to keep us safe, but these regulations must be enacted in a thoughtful manner and with a careful consideration to the impact they have on jobs. First, we should start by eliminating some of the most harmful regulations already on the books, including the president’s health care bill with its maze of new costly rules.
Next, several of my colleagues and I have introduced legislation that will make sure future regulations are not overly burdensome. For example, the Employer Impact Act, introduced by Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, is a simple bill: It would require all federal agencies to consider the number of jobs that will be lost as a result of a proposed rule or regulation. Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin has introduced legislation that would place a moratorium on new federal regulations with an economic impact exceeding $100 million until the unemployment rate falls below 7.7 percent.
And, as a newly appointed member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, I’m ready to work hard with my fellow committee members to produce a proposal that will reduce government spending, and help to create an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive.
You know, I have every confidence that the 21st century can be another great American century. And I know we can have a booming economy. But to get there, we have to remember the source of our national strength. Our strength doesn’t come from a bigger government controlling our economy.
It comes from a free enterprise system and the hard-working, honest citizens who make it run - the kind of industrious folks I see every day in Pennsylvania.
When government lets these folks grow their businesses and work hard without putting obstacles in their way, that’s when we’ll achieve the flourishing recovery and the job creation that our country needs and deserves. I’m Pat Toomey, and I thank you for listening.
On Thursday, I visited a new, high-tech factory in Michigan where workers are helping America lead the way in a growing clean energy industry.
They were proud of their work, and they should be. They’re not just showing us a path out of the worst recession in generations – they’re proving that this is still a country where we make things; where new ideas take root and grow; where the best universities, most creative entrepreneurs, and most dynamic businesses in the world call home. They’re proving that even in difficult times, there’s not a country on Earth that wouldn’t trade places with us.
That doesn’t mean we don’t face some very tough economic challenges. Many Americans are hurting badly right now. Many have been unemployed for too long. Putting these men and women back to work and growing wages for everyone has got to be our top priority.
But lately, the response from Washington has been partisanship and gridlock that’s only undermined public confidence and hindered our efforts to grow the economy.
So while there’s nothing wrong with our country, there is something wrong with our politics, and that’s what we’ve got to fix. Because we know there are things Congress can do, right now, to get more money back in your pockets, get this economy growing faster, and get our friends and neighbors back to work.
The payroll tax cut that put $1,000 back in the average family’s pocket this year? Let’s extend it. Construction workers who’ve been jobless since the housing boom went bust? Let’s put them back to work rebuilding America. Let’s cut red tape in the patent process so entrepreneurs can get good ideas to market more quickly. Let’s finish trade deals so we can sell more American-made goods around the world. Let’s connect the hundreds of thousands of brave Americans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan to businesses that need their incredible skills and talents.
These are all things we can do right now. So let’s do them. And over the coming weeks, I’ll put forward more proposals to help our businesses hire and create jobs and won’t stop until every American who wants a job can find one.
But we can no longer let partisan brinksmanship get in our way – the idea that making it through the next election is more important than making things right. That’s what’s holding us back – the fact that some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.
So you’ve got a right to be frustrated. I am. Because you deserve better. And I don’t think it’s too much for you to expect that the people you send to this town start delivering.
Members of Congress are at home in their districts right now. And if you agree with me – whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or not much of a fan of either – let them know.
If you’ve had it with gridlock, and you want them to pass stalled bills that will help our economy right now – let them know.
If you refuse to settle for a politics where scoring points is more important than solving problems; if you believe it’s time to put country before party and the interests of our children before our own – let them know.
And maybe they’ll get back to Washington ready to compromise, ready to create jobs, ready to get our fiscal house in order – ready to do what you sent them to do.
Yes, we’ve still got a long way to go to get to where we need to be. We didn’t get into this mess overnight, and it’s going to take time to get out of it. That’s a hard truth – but it’s no excuse for inaction. After all, America voted for divided government, not dysfunctional government, and we’ve got work to do.
And when we come together and find common ground, there’s no stopping this country. There’s no stopping our people. There’s no holding us back. And there is every reason to believe we’ll get through this storm to a brighter day. Thanks for listening, and have a nice weekend.
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Photos: Alex Wong / Getty Images; Associated Press (Toomey); Pete Souza / White House.