To hear President Barack Obama tell it, the Republicans in Congress have done absolutely nothing to address the unemployment situation and have put nothing forward that would lead to the creation of new jobs.
In a blistering response issued recently on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky fired back with both barrels at the White House, laying the blame for the jobs crisis squarely at Obama's feet.
"There is no denying the fact that the policies of the past two and a half years have made a bad situation worse. For two and a half years, Democrats dominated this town. They got everything they wanted," the Senate Republican leader said.
What did that get the country? Well, as McConnell put it rather succinctly, "Unemployment has hovered above eight percent for 32 months. The so-called misery index is the worst it's been in more than 25 years. Consumer confidence is at levels last seen during the height of the financial crisis. But if there's one number that really stands out, it's this: 1.5 million. That's the number of fewer jobs we now have in this country since the day that President Obama signed his signature 'jobs bill' into law."
In fact the Republicans in the House have passed a number of jobs bills—referred to by GOP leaders as "the forgotten 15"—that have languished in the U.S. Senate because the Democratic majority leader, Nevada's Harry Reid, refuses to bring them up. This, of course, may be due to a difference in vision. The GOP's legislation is designed to foster job creation in the private sector. Reid, as he said last week, thinks that's not a problem that needs to be addressed; rather it is the loss of jobs in the public sector—meaning government employees (and Democratic voters) that needs to be addressed with all urgency and dispatch.
Undeterred, the Republicans in the House are putting forward yet another plan intended to get the lagging U.S. economy back in gear and back in the business of job creation. The Jobs Through Growth Act, which is being spear-headed by Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan and the House Republican Study Committee, would make the tax code fairer and flatter, tear down barriers to domestic energy production, and reduce wastefulness and duplication in government.
As a plan to foster job creation, it's not bad. In fact, it's quite good, even if it doesn't go as far as some of the other proposals out there. The point is that is continues to push the idea that government intervention in the economy is a problem, not a solution, and that too much government intervention in the economy—which is what the Obama agenda is—is simply a recipe for turning the United States into Greece.
The tax section is particularly attractive from a growth standpoint. Under the Republican Study Committee's proposed legislation, taxpayers would be given the choice of staying with the current tax code or switching to a simple, flatter income tax that would have:
- just two rates 15 percent (first $50,000 taxable income for single filers, $100,000 for joint filers) and 25 percent (taxable income above that);
- a standard deduction of $12,500 for single filers and $25,000 for joint filers;
- an additional deduction of $12,500 for each dependent; and
- no other individual deductions or credits or exclusions.
"The new tax code is more pro-family than current law by, as noted above, providing dependent deductions of $12,500 (compared to $3,700 in current law), and by eliminating the marriage penalty," the bill analysis says, while eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax and setting the top tax rate on investment income at 15 percent for all taxpayers.
The GOP plan also cuts America's top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and it directs the House Ways and Means Committee to identify tax deductions and credits that could be eliminated and to report legislation transitioning the United States to a territorial tax system. It also indexes the capital gains tax for inflation, permanently buries the death tax, and encourages businesses to bring the estimated $1.2 trillion of capital stranded overseas back into the U.S. economy by lowering for one year the tax on foreign-earned profits repatriated by U.S. corporations to 5.25 percent.
There are other important parts to the plan, which is No. 16 on the list of GOP proposals to spark job creation, all of which could really make a meaningful and positive difference in the lives of the everyday average American. As House Speaker John Boehner put it Wednesday, "It's time for them to act" on these bills to "help put the American people back to work."