Job creation efforts offer hope for 2012

Jean Schmidt
What makes this nation so great is that Americans recognize the value of hard work. Given the opportunity, most want to put in an honest day’s labor in return for a paycheck.

Unfortunately, many workers – and businesses – have been struggling amid the downturn in the economy. The good news is there’s hope for the future.

The U.S. House of Representatives spent much of the last year trying to foster an environment that would help people in the private sector who want to create jobs.

My focus has been on helping not only large employers and small businesses, but also individuals interested in starting their own companies.

Government intrusion can hinder job creation at all levels, and that’s why I sponsored or co-sponsored House bills to eliminate or ease regulations deemed unnecessary or excessive.

I’m proud that one of the first things I did this year was co-sponsor a bill to repeal Obamacare. The cost of implementing the president’s health-care plan makes many business people uncomfortable – and that could actually lead to a reduction in employment. The legislation to repeal it was approved by the House, but became stranded in the Senate.

Back home in Clermont County, I presented my first Start-Up Summit on how to launch and grow a small business. More than 200 people participated in the November workshop, which was held in Union Township. Panel discussions included experts in funding start-up companies. My hope is that the Start-Up Summit will be a springboard to help those people develop innovative and sustainable businesses. Those start-ups could provide jobs for others.

While planning the Start-Up Summit, I co-sponsored a House bill called the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act. This would provide an innovative way for friends and family members to contribute small amounts of money into a pool to help entrepreneurs launch and grow companies – which could lead to new jobs. It passed in the House with bipartisan support. The Senate began holding hearings on the bill this month, and the White House has stated its support.

I have sponsored or co-sponsored 180 bills so far during this 112th Congress, and among the most important are those related to jobs.

Just last week, I introduced legislation that could lead to the creation of nearly 4,000 jobs in Southern Ohio – and another 4,000 jobs in nearby states, including Kentucky. My bill, which is co-sponsored by 11 other members of Congress from Ohio, would give the U.S. Department of Energy the authority to assess technologies related to the American Centrifuge project.

The Department of Energy has proposed a $300 million effort to research, develop, and demonstrate the viability of the American Centrifuge, the cost of which would be shared with the USEC company. This could lead to a loan guarantee that USEC says is vital to job creation.

The effort is important not only to Ohio’s economy, but also to our national security. USEC is the only American company that enriches uranium. Its American Centrifuge plant in Pike County would provide the uranium needed to supply tritium, which is a key component of our nuclear arsenal and must be replenished regularly. I hope to see action on this bill in the coming month.

In October, I was successful in pushing for free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, which have the potential to boost the U.S. gross domestic product by billions of dollars, according to the International Trade Commission. The president says that could lead to the creation of 250,000 jobs.

The free-trade agreements, which eliminate tariffs that made U.S. products unnecessarily expensive, could benefit farmers, manufacturers, and freight haulers throughout the Second Congressional District. The Ohio Soybean Association estimates that the agreements will result in a $3 billion increase in soybean exports to the three trading partners.

I also was proud to co-sponsor the REINS Act, which stands for Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny. This bill, which I and other members of the House approved earlier this month and forwarded to the Senate for consideration, is designed to ease the regulatory burden on job creators. It would require congressional approval of administrative regulations that would have an economic impact of $100 million or more.

In the coming year, I will continue to concentrate on the economic interests of the residents and businesses of Southern Ohio.

I hope each of you has a happy and prosperous New Year.

Jean Schmidt is the U.S. Congresswoman serving Ohio’s Second District.