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Weekly remarks: GOP's Johanns on less regulation, Obama on investing in energy

April 23, 2011 | 12:00 am

Capitol Hill as Budget Deal is announced 4-8-11

Weekly remarks by Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hello, I’m Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska.

With debate in Washington focused on how best to address our nation's growing debt, it's important to remember the role it plays in our critical priority of job creation.

Policymakers tend to toss out the term 'job creation’ very broadly – it’s a very popular talking point. But what does it mean to create jobs?

The claim is often made that new federal policies will create jobs and paychecks for Americans.

The idea of government creating jobs; well, it simply misses the point entirely. That's just not how we get our economic engine firing on all cylinders.

Job creation in this country doesn't start with government; it starts with our businesses, especially our small businesses.

Small businesses create between 60 and 80 percent of all new jobs, according to the Small Business Administration.

Our small businesses, when free to grow and prosper, need more and more employees to sustain that success.

And that's economic growth.

That's job creation.

But, that’s stifled when the federal government...

... spends more than it takes in; throwing a very cold, wet blanket on the entire process.

The current record-setting deficits – and the $14 trillion plus in accumulated national debt - are serious impediments to job creation because they have a ripple effect right to Main Street.

Our job creators can't thrive in an environment where creditors pull back because of our government's debt, because without credit, small businesses can’t grow.

Our debt threatens to devalue the dollar which will lead to increased costs and interest rates, which has a chilling effect on small business growth.

The past two years of running up the debt are a testament to the fact that we can't spend our way to prosperity.

I've met a whole lot of business owners, and they never thank the government for creating jobs.

They thank me for getting government out of their way, so they can create jobs. A great example of this is the nine-month battle it took in Congress to finally repeal the 1099 tax reporting mandate, which the President has signed.

Job creators found themselves saddled with a mountain of costly new paperwork due to this part of the health care law.

Repealing it opened the door to hiring by closing the door on new accounting red tape that businesses would have faced.

Since then, I've heard directly from small business owners, thanking us for removing this stumbling block to growth, for saving them time and money, and for getting big government out of the way of small business. It was a collective effort.

Thousands of small business owners made their voices heard.

Their analyses allowed us to place the debate in a real-world framework, and I wholeheartedly thank everyone who supported freeing-up our job creators to create jobs. 1099 repeal was a big victory for our small businesses and our economy, but there's so much more to do.

The red tape and the bureaucracy continue to pile up from this Administration. In the State of the Union Address in January, the President pledged to eliminate, and I’m quoting, ‘burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs,’ unquote.

Since then, his Administration has proposed or enacted more than 250 regulations amounting to more than $24 billion dollars in regulatory costs. And again, that’s just since January.

That’s $24 billion dollars needed by small businesses across the country to hire new employees and to grow their businesses – it should not be funneled out of the economy or your communities and re-routed back to Washington to the government.

Washington is simply out of touch with the folks on Main Street trying to do their share to boost our economy.

They hear us talk about job creation all the time, but they also bear witness to the constant contradictions. If everyone is serious about job creation, in addition to reducing the debt, let’s reduce burdensome regulations that serve no purpose other than to insert more government into the lives of citizens.

Why were small businesses, which had nothing to do with our current financial troubles, roped in as a part of the cause in last year's financial regulatory reform? Why are they being targeted for a tax hike as a purported solution to deficit problems?

It is time to change the culture in Washington. We can't tie up small businesses in needless red tape and regulations and then expect them to create jobs and boost the economy. The federal government can't create jobs; we must help shape an economic environment conducive to job creation.

It's our task to unshackle job creators from regulations and mandates, to enable them to grow, to flourish.

My Republican colleagues and I will continue to push for a scaled back government that allows the enterprising American spirit to create a prosperous economy that benefits everyone. That means reining in spending, reducing the deficit, eliminating red tape that holds businesses back.

It is clearly time for government to get out of the way. Our small businesses will respond with innovation and job creation. This is Mike Johanns of Nebraska. Thank you for your time and I hope you and your family enjoy a very blessed Easter.

Obama talks about Budget talks 4-7-11

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

This is a time of year when people get together with family and friends to observe Passover and to celebrate Easter. It’s a chance to give thanks for our blessings and reaffirm our faith, while spending time with the people we love. We all know how important that is – especially in hard times. And that’s what a lot of people are facing these days.

Even though the economy is growing again and we’ve seen businesses adding jobs over the past year, many are still looking for work. And even if you haven’t faced a job loss, it’s still not easy out there. Your paycheck isn’t getting bigger, while the cost of everything from college for your kids to gas for your car keeps rising. That’s something on a lot of people’s minds right now, with gas prices at $4 a gallon. It’s just another burden when things were already pretty tough.

Now, whenever gas prices shoot up, like clockwork, you see politicians racing to the cameras, waving three-point plans for two dollar gas. You see people trying to grab headlines or score a few points. The truth is, there’s no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away.

But there are a few things we can do. This includes safe and responsible production of oil at home, which we are pursuing. In fact, last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003. On Thursday, my Attorney General also launched a task force with just one job: rooting out cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices, including any illegal activity by traders and speculators. We’re going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain. And another step we need to take is to finally end the $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies we give to the oil and gas companies each year. That’s $4 billion of your money going to these companies when they’re making record profits and you’re paying near record prices at the pump. It has to stop.

Instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy sources, we need to invest in tomorrow’s. We need to invest in clean, renewable energy. In the long term, that’s the answer. That’s the key to helping families at the pump and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We can see that promise already. Thanks to an historic agreement we secured with all the major auto companies, we’re raising the fuel economy of cars and trucks in America, using hybrid technology and other advances. As a result, if you buy a new car in the next few years, the better gas mileage is going to save you about $3,000 at the pump.

But we need to do more. We need to harness the potential I’ve seen at promising start-ups and innovative clean energy companies across America. And that’s at the heart of a debate we’re having right now in Washington about the budget.

Both Democrats and Republicans believe we need to reduce the deficit. That’s where we agree. The question we’re debating is how we do it. I’ve proposed a balanced approach that cuts spending while still investing in things like education and clean energy that are so critical to creating jobs and opportunities for the middle class. It’s a simple idea: we need to live within our means while at the same time investing in our future.

That’s why I disagree so strongly with a proposal in Congress that cuts our investments in clean energy by 70 percent. Yes, we have to get rid of wasteful spending – and make no mistake, we’re going through every line of the budget scouring for savings. But we can do that without sacrificing our future. We can do that while still investing in the technologies that will create jobs and allow the United States to lead the world in new industries. That’s how we’ll not only reduce the deficit, but also lower our dependence on foreign oil, grow the economy, and leave for our children a safer planet. And that’s what our mission has to be.

Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.


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Photos: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images; Alex Wong / Getty Images.