Published in the Othello Outlook, Colville Statesman Examiner and Huckleberry Press.
It was a little over two months ago that I stood beside our newly elected Speaker, took the Oath of Office for the fourth time, and joined with the new Republican Majority to tackle the issues facing America in the months and years ahead. We knew then – as we know now – that the road would be long and the battle would be arduous. But with sound fiscal policy and an unwavering commitment to free enterprise, the obstacles are surmountable. And the progress we’ve made in just the first months of the 112th Congress have proven just that.
We got a head start in December by joining in a bipartisan way to extend the 2010 tax rates for two years – an historic vote that eliminated the threat of the largest tax increase in U.S. history. That $3.8 trillion tax increase would have devastated our small business owners, destroyed job creation and crippled our economy. But we refused to let that happen.
A few weeks ago, my colleagues and I stayed late into the night to pass the Continuing Resolution, prevent a government shutdown, and cut spending by $100 billion. It wasn’t easy – the debate was long and the opposition was tough – but we refused to leave the House Floor until we had stood up for what the American people wanted: spending restraint and fiscal responsibility. The CR rolled back federal spending to pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels over the next seventh months. It is just one more step – one necessary step – toward spurring job creation, restoring economic certainty, and creating a favorable economic climate in which Americans want to invest.
But that’s just part of the work we’ve done in this Congress to get our fiscal house in order. On March 3, I voted to repeal the new 1099 requirement for small business owners, which was included in last year’s health care law. I’ve spoken at length with business owners in Eastern Washington who are concerned about increased costs, cumbersome paperwork, and tremendous uncertainty as a result of this unnecessary government regulation. Now – more than ever – we must ensure that businesses are not burdened by these administrative nightmares. Eliminating excessive government regulation is a crucial part of restoring economic growth – and I am committed to making that happen.
So have we brought change? Has this policy shift made a difference? There is reason for optimism. Our national unemployment rate is under 9 percent for the first time in two years. The Labor Department just reported that 192,000 jobs were added in February. And private sector job growth hit 222,000 – the first time it exceeded 200,000 since the start of the recession.
In addition, the stock market is near its highest level in three years. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently confirmed that the market “has responded to a stronger economy and better expectations.”
It’s no coincidence that when Congress works to lower taxes, reduce spending, and cut the deficit, the economy will do better. And this, we hope, is only the beginning.
We have a full agenda in Congress for the rest of the year: further spending cuts, replacing last year’s health care law with common-sense, market-based solutions, and a bold, comprehensive plan that reduces energy prices by substantially increasing the use of domestic energy sources.
We will continue to advance this agenda, and with your support, we will get it passed and continue to move America in the right direction
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers represents Washington’s Fifth District in the U.S. Congress.