Empower the people to spur job creation

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By The Staff

Despite President Barack Obama’s inaugural promise to create jobs and contain unemployment through passage of a stimulus package that would “provide an immediate jolt” to our economy, Kentuckians have been struggling with an unemployment rate above ten percent since May 2009.  Since the Democrat Majority’s stimulus legislation was signed into law almost one year ago, 3.5 million Americans have lost their jobs.  More than six million jobs have been lost since Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007.

In order to create jobs, we must empower the people.  Individuals, entrepreneurs and small business owners will drive our economic recovery, create jobs and ultimately reduce the unemployment rate.  But first, the government has to get out of the way.  Unfortunately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have relentlessly pursued a policy focused on bigger government, higher spending and more debt.

Today, a small business owner who considers adding employees must face threats of higher state and federal taxes; a national energy tax; restricted access to credit; and increased mandates, costs, penalties and taxes related to proposed health care legislation.  Washington has created an environment of uncertainty that has chilled job creation. 

On Jan. 25, I met with a variety of business leaders, job seekers, and career development specialists at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Jobs Forum to listen to their ideas on how Washington can encourage job creation in 2010. 

Employers who attended the Jobs Forum gave their perspective on a number of issues that impact their ability to do business in this difficult economy.  A principle concern expressed by many in attendance was the failure of both the federal and state governments to streamline regulation and taxation.  For some, the costs of complying with various taxes have become a greater financial burden than the taxes themselves.  I agreed with the attendees who suggested we need a simplified tax structure to grow Kentucky’s small businesses, ensure their ability to create local jobs, and return our economy to stable footing.

Cost and access to credit was discussed by several employers as a significant impediment to job growth in 2010.  The financial and housing crises of 2008 clearly indicated the need for regulatory reform, but as we have seen in the health care debate, the devil is in the details.  While commonsense, responsible regulation is important, we must ensure that we do not craft an excessively complicated system that unnecessarily limits credit and stalls our economic recovery. 

Many of the forum participants also expressed concerns about the proposed “cap and trade” national energy tax and  its impact on Kentucky’s economy.  Businesses rely on the low energy costs available in the Commonwealth thanks to our abundant coal resources.  Implementing a “cap and trade” program is dangerous economic policy that we cannot afford.  Congress must instead work together to implement a comprehensive energy policy that will take advantage of the abundant energy resources that exist on our soil and allow us to stop sending billions of dollars to unstable foreign regimes.

Businesses cannot thrive in an economy falsely buoyed by temporary stimulus jobs and taxpayer-funded bailouts.  In order to create jobs, we must empower the people.  We must craft legislation in Congress that will not cause additional harm to our economy, but will instead give Americans the flexibility they need to grow their businesses.  Our economic recovery in Kentucky will depend on the success of local businesses like the ones that were represented at the Jobs Forum.