A Pledge to America
By Congressman Joe Pitts
This week, House Republicans released a governing agenda that clearly shows the American people what we are working to accomplish in this Congress and in the future. The Pledge to America is grounded in timeless values and the needs of America today. We looked to the Constitution for guidance on the role of the federal government, and we listened to the American people through town hall meetings, phone calls, letters, and new technologies.
We know that the priority of every American is resurrecting this flagging economy. Despite a stimulus bill that will cost taxpayers over $1 trillion, unemployment soared to nearly 10 percent. Each report of new unemployment claims confirms that American workers and families are hurting.
There is a fundamental disagreement between Republicans and Democrats about the best way to move our economy forward. In the past two years, the solutions offered by the Administration and Congress have been government takeovers of the banking, healthcare, student loan, energy, and automotive industries.
I opposed bailouts and government takeovers when they were pushed by President Bush, and I've continued to oppose President Obama's efforts. The American economy doesn't succeed because of crafty government policies. It succeeds because Americans are free to innovate and invest.
The first objective of the Pledge to America is to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive. This means standing against job-killing tax hikes that are due to take effect on January 1, 2011. Our plan calls for growing new and existing small businesses through a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income. We also need to repeal the burdensome new tax-reporting requirement created by the health care reform bill. Finally, we need to make sure that bureaucracy is not strangling businesses seeking to create new jobs.
One of the greatest causes of uncertainty in the business community is the threat of massive tax increases to pay for a government that is growing fast. The Pledge calls for an immediate stop to stimulus spending. Over $200 billion remains unspent and we must act quickly to prevent more waste. This also means permanently cancelling the TARP bailout program and returning the money to the Treasury.
The federal government has grown at an extraordinary rate in the last two years. We must put the breaks on and revert to fiscal year 2008 levels. Once we've pared back spending, we need hard caps of the same type that allowed us to balance the budget in the 1990s. When I came to Congress, I co-wrote four consecutive balanced budgets that each paid down the debt. This wouldn't have been possible without hard restraints on the growth of government.
One way to get back to balanced budgets is to repeal the healthcare law. Contrary to White House claims, the Congressional Budget Office and Medicare’s own actuaries have shown that Obamacare will not pay for itself. This new law will be an extraordinary weight on government, businesses, and, most importantly, doctors and patients. We are committed to repealing the law and replacing it with free market solutions.
Every poll shows that trust of Congress is at a record low. The Pledge commits our party to giving Members and the American people time to thoroughly read legislation before it is considered. Congress needs to stop ignoring the Constitution and the limits it places on legislative power. We would require a statement explicitly citing the Constitutional authority that justifies a piece of legislation.
Finally, Congress has a responsibility to keep our nation safe. The Pledge commits House Republicans to strengthening our border, keeping detained terrorists out of the U.S., funding missile defense, and requiring tough sanctions on Iran.
I wholeheartedly endorse these policies, but my work also goes beyond what is in the Pledge. I'm listening to my constituents in the 16th District and introducing bills based on what I'm hearing from them. The recently introduced COBRA Affordability Act came about because of the struggles many have had paying for health insurance after losing a job.
Republicans are going to press for these policies to be enacted immediately. We're going to keep listening to the American people and offering clear solutions that put them in charge, not government bureaucrats.
Congressman Joe Pitts is a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District in parts of Berks, Chester and Lancaster counties.