By George Leing
Candidate for Congress in Colorado’s 2nd CD
The government doesn’t create prosperity and jobs, the private sector does. The key to unleashing economic prosperity in America is untangling the private sector from the web of unnecessary government involvement. The failed, so-called “stimulus package”, which was supported by my opponent, Jared Polis, is a case study of what happens when politicians try and make decisions about our economy. When government steps in to pick the winners and losers, we all lose. Money doled out to companies who will line the politicians’ campaign accounts is just cronyism dressed up like a fix to the economy.
Let’s put these shenanigans behind us and move toward reforms that will unleash our economic freedom. My Economic Prosperity Package calls for Fixing–or eliminating–Obamacare; a Fairer, Flatter, Simpler tax code that also lowers the corporate tax rate; and Regulatory Reform that gets businesses out of the quagmire of lost time and profit spent on satisfying the requirements of unelected government bureaucrats.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is hurting Americans, including Coloradans. A recent USA Today poll shows 57% of Coloradans believe Obamacare has been generally bad for the people of our state. Avik Roy reminds us, “Remember that President Obama often promised that his plan would ‘lower the premiums by up to $2500 for a typical family by the end of my first term as President of the United States.’” A business owner in our District, David Allen of Boulder, told a Congressional panel last year that because his company’s plan did not meet the ACA’s minimum standards the company would experience a 52.3% rate increase by January 2014.
The Administration predicted in 2010 that that by the end of 2014, an average of 63% employer plans would be cancelled. In addition, tens of millions of individuals will lose their employer-provided plans because they don’t meet the requirements of the ACA. Increased premiums means more money coming out of the family budget for middle class Coloradans, making it difficult to make ends meet. That means for some families sports participation fees or piano lessons may have to be considered luxuries that no longer fit in the budget.
My opponent, Jared Polis, did go to bat for some folks in the District – those in ski-towns disproportionately affected by Obamacare. Last fall he told a health policy think tank that the increased premiums under Obamacare would be too expensive for Summit County residents to pay. Good for him! But, what about the rest of his constituents?
The pre-Obamacare health system was flawed. It put too much power in the hands of insurance companies. Obamacare compounded the problem, putting power in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, and having government guarantee the profit of insurance companies. How about a system that puts patients and consumers in charge for a change? I will work to enhance and protect the doctor-patient relationship. Allowing consumers to purchase plans across state lines will enhance competition. Furthermore, I will work toward greater price transparency and for appropriate tort reforms that reduce the amount of unnecessary defensive medicine.
Fairer, Simpler, Flatter Tax
As it is, the IRS is dysfunctional and bloated, spending over 10% of taxes received on maintaining its sprawling bureaucracy. The IRS keeps Americans in fear of audit, burdens all with reams of cumbersome rules, complicated exemptions, deductions and special provisions favoring special interests, hurts small businesses and unnecessarily tethers corporations to federal mandates. With the highest corporate tax rate in the world, we are pushing international business offshore. We need to lower this rate and incentivize investment in America.
I favor a bipartisan, 1986-style tax reform that gets rid of many of the special-interest carve-outs and lowers rates for all. This reform–the last overall to our tax system–to our tax code did not eliminate a progressive tax system, but made it more equitable. The existing tax code is riddled with carve-outs and credits for the politically connected. It serves no one well.
When it comes to reforming our tax code, I will work toward simplicity, lower rates, and fairness. But we need to think big. Our tax code is too long and virtually impossible for average citizens to understand. America’s corporate tax rates are the highest in the world. We are driving jobs overseas. Tinkering around the edges is not enough. We should work toward wholesale change that promotes American competitiveness in the world economy.
Federal regulations serve an important purpose: they can create predictability while protecting consumers, the environment and more. But far too little attention is paid to the cost of regulation. Nor is there nearly enough time spent on revisiting existing regulations. Federal bureaucrats seem to think more is always better. I disagree. Since 1949, the number of pages of federal regulation has increased almost seven-fold.
A dramatic but everyday example of regulation that led to a dramatic reduction in the profits of small businesses can be found among raisin farmers in California. A full 47% of raisin farmers’ profits are lost due to production caps requiring bureaucrats to physically confiscate crops.
Bringing this issue home to our District, regulations swirl around the oil and gas industry, the industry most responsible for economic growth in Colorado. Colorado is known for having model state regulations on oil and gas development, but the federal administration is still advocating more intervention. Obama has promised to veto a bipartisan bill that would allow state regulations to trump federal regulations at the state level.
Here in Colorado, oil and gas industry jobs are threatened not only by Obama, but by the obsessions of Congressman Jared Polis, who personally helped bankroll ballot initiatives which would have crippled Colorado’s oil and gas industry, threatened up to 110,000 jobs and which would have severely hurt Colorado's fragile recovering economy. Even though Polis backed off moving forward at the last moment, the threat of renewed efforts in 2015 continues to loom like a dark cloud over the industry.
Our economy would be better served by getting government out of the way through common-sense reforms. At $17.8 trillion in debt, our federal government can't afford to add more programs and bureaucracy, and it doesn't need to. We can restore prosperity by removing regulations that no longer make sense and take away the obstacles which keep people from starting and growing their businesses. In that way, jobs can be created and individuals can be free to use their ingenuity and creativity to find success. After all, the American Dream is based on the opportunity to succeed -- let's unleash the American Spirit!