By Rob Portman
For the American people, the economic indicators are not good. Six Americans have left the workforce for every net job created under President Obama. Last month, nearly two-thirds of all jobs created were part-time. About 413,000 of Ohio’s 12 million people are out of work. That’s greater than the population of Cleveland.
Yet the President seems intent on continuing to do what hasn’t worked to turn things around. More taxes, more regulations, and more spending won’t bring back the jobs.
The American people deserve bold reforms that tackle the major structural challenges to our economy and help create a climate for job growth.
Senate Republicans addressed these challenges in our Jobs Plan, a set of pro-growth policies I helped put together after meeting with Ohioans in all 88 counties of our state.
It’s not just a series of ideas on paper. I have introduced or drafted bipartisan legislation for each of the plan’s seven pillars. Unfortunately, because of the obstruction of the Democratic Senate majority, these bills have not gotten a fair hearing on the Senate floor.
1. Begin Living Within Our Means
Washington desperately needs to rein in deficits, otherwise the near-stagnant economy won’t create enough jobs. The bipartisan End Government Shutdowns Act, which I have been pushing with Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), will prevent the threat of a government shutdown from pressing Congress into approving last-minute, budget-busting spending deals. Instead, any appropriations bill that has not been signed into law by the new fiscal year will have its spending continued at existing levels, and then reduced over time. This will force Congress to come to agreements that are fiscally responsible.
2. Reform Tax Code To Spur Economic Growth
Simplifying our outdated, antiquated tax code — on both the corporate and individual sides — will help ensure the United States remains the best place to grow a business and create jobs. Over the past year, working with Democrats and Republicans, I have developed a deficit-neutral corporate tax reform plan that lowers the corporate tax rate, now the highest in the developed world, by removing inefficient preferences in the code.
3. Unburden The Economy From Washington Regulations
Washington must restrain excessive and uncertain regulatory burdens that are keeping employers from hiring, and even in some cases helping lead to job losses. The Regulatory Accountability Act, my commonsense bill with Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), would require federal agencies to apply cost-benefit analysis when they put forward a regulation, including looking at what that regulation will do to create or hurt jobs.
4. Create Competitive Workforce
Small businesses across Ohio tell me that quality jobs are going unfilled. Reform of the federal government’s worker retraining programs will help give Ohio’s workforce the tools it needs to fill these jobs. I’ve worked with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to introduce the CAREER Act, which will address the disorganization and overlap among the 47 different programs spread out over nine federal agencies, prioritize credentials in-demand by industry, and establish accountability through a pay-for-performance model.
5. Increase Exports To Create More Jobs
Congress must give Ohio’s farmers, workers, and service providers greater access to markets around the world. As a former U.S. Trade Representative, I am proud to have played a key role in breaking the logjam and getting the export-opening agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama across the finish line in 2011. Yet this President remains the first since FDR not to seek the power to negotiate export agreements on behalf of the American people. Even so, I have introduced legislation with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to give him that Trade Promotion Authority to help create jobs. At the same time, I’ve stood by Ohio manufacturers to make sure that trade is both free and fair.
6. Power America’s Economy
To help create jobs, America will need to produce more energy — and use less. The private sector has revolutionized domestic oil and gas production with advanced recovery technologies and huge new shale finds. When it comes to using less, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and I put forward energy efficiency legislation called the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.1000). Last month, the Senate passed important provisions from the bill that will help industry save money that can go to other productive, job-creating purposes.
7. Adopt Common Sense Health Care Solutions
Rather than a big-government spending program that makes it harder for employers to hire, American families and seniors deserve lower-cost, higher-quality health care. The Better Health Rewards program I’ve proposed with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) encourages prevention and gives seniors the opportunity to take part in a wellness program they designed. If they reach and maintain their goals, they’ll share in the savings from their reduced use of health care services. This legislation was inspired by a Cleveland Clinic initiative.
Instead of heading down the well-worn and failed path of taxing, spending, and regulating, the Senate should take up all the bipartisan legislative initiatives we’ve offered under our Jobs Plan. Jobs shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I’ve already worked with Democrats to find consensus on bills that will help put Ohioans back to work.
Rob Portman is a U.S. Senator from Ohio.