In years past, I’ve chosen to forego attending President Obama’s annual State of the Union speech, and instead focused on interacting with my constituents through live, virtual town halls while I watched the speech in my office. This wasn’t out of disrespect, but because I wanted to see real-time responses from Georgians and to get their ideas for what might jumpstart our economy.
This year, I decided to attend the State of the Union in hopes that the president might have learned something from his failed policies and for a change in direction in this particular speech. I went with my colleagues to the House floor and awaited the president’s arrival, hoping that he would deliver a speech that would give us real, honest solutions to get our economy going and create jobs outside of government.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Last night, we got nothing more than a campaign speech from President Obama that outlined his plans to further divide America for political gain. The State of the Union revolved around raising taxes, increasing spending, and enacting more government regulations – nearly all in conflict with the original intent of our Constitution.
President Obama, his administration, and most of my Democrat colleagues have it all wrong. More taxes, more spending and more government regulation will never be the solutions to our fiscal crisis. Real American growth and lasting prosperity will only prevail through the successes of the private sector. The president’s “Blueprint for an America Built to Last” has a serious, fundamental flaw: You can’t build a sturdy structure on a cracked foundation.
There is no clearer example than from just last month, when one of my colleagues from Georgia took to the floor of the House of Representatives to attack the private sector. U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, from Georgia’s 4th Congressional District, spent 60 minutes lambasting the Koch brothers, whose seven companies are based mainly in Georgia.
Johnson chided the brothers for building their father’s business into “something like a $100 billion a year company” and whined that “they are billionaires.” Johnson failed to mention that the Koch brothers employ nearly 8,000 people and support approximately 30,000 jobs in the state – many of which are in Johnson’s own district.
Much like President Obama, Johnson seems to take pleasure in demonizing the wealthy for working hard and being successful. Echoing Obama’s socialist ideals, Johnson said of Koch Industries, “They love all of those loopholes, tax credits and exemptions that are built into the tax code just to benefit them and a couple of their worthy, wealthy friends.” Yet annual compensation and benefits for Koch employees totals nearly $795 million. That’s a lot of people who contribute payroll taxes, and a lot of money that is being reinvested in the state of Georgia and across the nation.
If we raise taxes on employers like the Koch brothers, we will force companies to shed jobs instead of encouraging them to hire more people. This will only lead to more of the same extended unemployment we’ve seen over the last 40 months, and people drawing welfare checks instead of paychecks.
These liberal ideas will do nothing to solve the debt crisis. Even though Johnson foolishly claimed, “We’re not in any danger of being able to pay back our debt,” and that it is a “manufactured crisis,” our economic problems are very real and rapidly approaching a breaking point. Our nation is now more than $15 trillion in debt. Simply put, every single man, woman, and child in the United States is responsible for almost $50,000 of our federal debt. I do not believe that the hardworking taxpayers can afford to write a check of that size for their families. Moreover, even if we tax millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations at 100 percent of their incomes, it will not solve the debt crisis.
Rather than focusing on “rebuilding America” through higher taxes, more government regulation and more spending, I believe that we first must secure our foundation. It should be, as the president says, “built to last,” but we can only ensure this by cementing the ideals of free enterprise, a limited government and the opportunity for every person to grasp the American dream.
Over and over again, we’ve been promised that the next big government program will finally bring jobs or lead to some new economic stability. Instead, unemployment has remained above 8 percent for more than three years, and both large and small businesses are too shaken by regulatory uncertainty to take real chances on growing their companies.
The president and those on the left must stop playing political games and face the facts: The private sector drives our economy. Politics have come before good fiscal policy for far too long. “We the People” must demand a different kind of governance in Washington.
(Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., represents the 10th Congressional District.)