By Paul Ryan
Representing Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District
Any visit by the President of the United States to our great state is always welcome, but the timing of President Obama’s Town Hall meeting this week came at a critical time for the state of Wisconsin and the Racine community in particular. Families and businesses in our communities are facing tremendous challenges- they have been forced to make tough decisions in a harsh economic climate where jobs are scarce and credit is limited.
The President had the opportunity in Racine to explain why – with a co-operative Congress dominated by his own party, which is capable of passing any bill he asks – his policies have made the situation worse for Southern Wisconsin instead of fulfilling the promises of economic recovery and growth.
Sixteen months ago, a $787 billion emergency “stimulus” was rushed through Congress with bold declarations that it would keep unemployment under 8% and spur quick job growth. Yet today, a considerable portion of stimulus funds remain unspent, national unemployment is hovering at 10%, and in hard-hit cities like Racine it has reached 14%. And while the private sector has shed 3 million jobs since the stimulus passed, the federal government has gone on a hiring spree. This spending binge was promised to deliver jobs and economic stability and these promises have failed to be kept.
Wisconsinites understand that you can't take money from the productive sector of our economy, funnel it through Washington, and create jobs and prosperity. But those running Washington are intent on doubling-down on this “borrow and spend” approach and seem to be ideologically blinded to the real consequences of these policies.
The rhetoric from the President simply does not match the reality. During the health care debate, the President and Democratic leaders unrelenting refrain was: ‘if you like your current health care plan, you can keep it’. And despite repeated warnings from independent and non-partisan reports, we are finding out – just three months after the bill’s passage – that millions of Americans will either be dropped from their current plan or see changes that will affect their access to health care.
The same problems exist with the President’s energy policy, as Wisconsinites saw this week when the Export-Import Bank initially denied loan guarantees that would keep 1,000 Midwesterners employed. I was glad to see that in this instance, the Administration recognized that keeping good paying jobs here at home was more important than trying to reduce global warming by a fraction of a degree over the next 100 years. Unfortunately though, the uncertainty that Bucyrus and its employees felt over the last week is a harbinger of things to come should the Administration continue to pursue policies that put the interests of the liberal special interest groups above the interests of the American people.
Rather than compounding our economic problems and driving our nation deeper and deeper into debt with little to show for it, we need to put forward sustainable, common-sense plans to grow our economy. Instead of erecting new hurdles for small businesses and entrepreneurs, we should reduce government-imposed barriers to grow, produce, create and innovate. We need to instill a sense of certainty and confidence for investment and job growth.
We must start reforming government and put in place a plan for growth and prosperity. I’ve put forward one plan, A Roadmap for America's Future, which spurs job-creation, pays off our debt, and promotes sustained economic growth. The Roadmap puts our country in a position to lead, rather than follow, in the 21st century global economy.
It stands in direct contrast to the Administration’s approach and empowers the American people as opposed to expanding the federal government. We have seen the painful consequences of the federal government’s continued spending and borrowing binge. It is making things worse not better and we urgently need to chart a different course.