By Rob Portman
A presidential budget is many things. It is a chance for the president to declare his priorities, to highlight his initiatives, and to offer reforms of how our government does business. But most importantly of all, it is a chance for the President to lead on the fiscal issues of the day. We certainly need that leadership now.
In a time of record long-term unemployment and unprecedented debt, what we need are pro-growth policies that will create jobs and reforms that will result in responsible reductions in our long-term deficits. Instead, President Obama’s budget includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending, $1.2 trillion in job-killing taxes and $8.3 trillion in new debt.
One particularly sobering stat? Under the president’s plan, according to his own numbers, annual interest costs will reach $616 billion in 2020, while defense that year will be $583 billion. If the president had his way, we’d spend more money financing our debt than funding our men and women in uniform. That’s not the kind of budget that’s going to spur growth. It’s not the kind of budget that’s going to get people back in a job or businesses hiring again.
The new taxes contained in this budget will make it harder to create jobs, not easier. They will stifle growth, not encourage it.
This is a missed opportunity. Republicans and Democrats may disagree on a lot of things, but the American people need us to come together to find a way to get this economy moving again. So instead of arguing about a budget that we all know isn’t going anywhere, I would propose we use this time to get some things done for the American people.
And real things, too. Now is not the time for political gimmicks. Let’s reform worker retraining in this country so that the 47 government retraining programs actually work the way they are supposed to and get the unemployed in the jobs that are available.
Let’s give the president the ability to knock down barriers to trade and put products stamped “Made in America” in stores around the world and create jobs right here at home. Let’s pass bipartisan energy efficiency legislation that will conserve resources and save manufacturers money that they can reinvest in their industry and in this country.
And then let’s approve the Keystone Pipeline so we can create jobs and speed the day when North America will be energy independent.
Those should be the easy things. Then we can get to work reforming our tax code, balancing our budget, and fixing a broken healthcare system that has only been made worse by Obamacare.
Unlike the president’s budget, these are serious proposals that people around this country support. And unlike the President’s budget, they can help get American workers back in a job and American families back on their feet.
Let’s make them happen. Let’s start today.
— Rob Portman is a U.S. Senator from Ohio who has been in office since 2011