I sat down the other night thinking of how to most concisely explain the primary job of Congress to my kids. Then I realized, hey, congressmen have jobs, that’s a step above about 9 percent of the people in Maine. Maybe Congress’ job should simply start there.
Seventeen months on the campaign trail and “jobs” is not only the primary issue, it is practically the only issue on people’s minds in Maine’s 2nd District. Our unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent. Those are simply numbers based on the people who are enrolled in unemployment insurance. I read an article in the U.S. Financial Post recently that said the 9.6 percent unemployment rate nationally actually translates into 18 percent if you add “part-time employees and those that have simply stopped looking for work.”
Bottom line: We need jobs. What my opponent, Mike Michaud, and his D.C. friends don’t understand is that government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does. I’m a small businessman and understand we just need government out of our pockets and off our backs so we can do this.
The path Congress has put us on is unsustainable. We must change course right away. We know the solution is not this unlimited government spending we’ve been put through. We must fix the problems and remove the obstacles that are causing our massive job losses and preventing job growth. We must eliminate the climate of uncertainty for small businesses.
There are a few simple policy proposals we can implement quickly to address our unemployment problem and you don’t need 2,400 pages of bureaucracy to call it a policy.
If elected, I will work to:
• Repeal Obamacare and replace with a plan that opens state lines so people can purchase insurance from anywhere, same as car insurance. This increases competition thereby reducing costs.
• Implement true tort reform to get doctors out of the exam room. Cap payouts and require initial mediation to eliminate frivolous lawsuits. And, allow small businesses to pool to purchase insurance and get the same rates as large companies.
• Reduce overregulation and require regulatory consistency. Let’s implement a five-year “grandfather law” on new regulations with an emergency waiver process. We can’t keep forcing businesses to recomply yearly to new and arbitrary regulations. We also need to review all regulations on a periodic timetable. Many imposed regulations are unnecessary and outdated.
• Reduce the corporate tax rate. We have the second-highest in the world — second to Japan. The massive taxation on corporations limits their ability to grow and hire. If we reduce the corporate tax rate we will be able to allow them to expand and put more jobs on the payroll.
• We need to put more money in your pocket. That means we need to reduce taxes by extending the Bush tax cuts. They affect everyone and you do not raise taxes in a recession — to not extend is to create a massive tax increase. We also need to permanently abolish the death tax, reduce the capital gains tax and payroll taxes and stop the outrageous spending that is forcing tax increases.
• Address energy independence and not with the cap and trade bill, which is a massive tax increase that will cost the average Maine family $1,800 per year. What should be implemented are tax incentives for renewable energy sources to increase output and-or construct new plants. Nuclear is a clean, efficient and affordable form. Let’s also allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which is an economic and security drain on our nation.
• Reduce our massive debt, which is $13 trillion and climbing. We can do this by using unspent TARP and stimulus funds to pay down the debt and we should require companies that took TARP money and are now profitable to start paying it back. Let’s end the earmark process and require a balanced budget on all discretionary funding. We could also implement a sunset provision on all spending provisions so unnecessary or outdated programs are not continually funded indefinitely.
• Solve our illegal immigration crisis, which is affecting our economy, our education and health systems and our national security.
My opponent has had eight years in Congress and we have unemployment in the district that is some of the highest in the country. It’s now time for a change of course.
There are many things I will do to work for the people of Maine’s 2nd District if I am so honored to be elected and this is just the start of it.
So, back to the beginning. I told my kids, the primary job of Congress right now? To get government out of the way, because we need jobs.
Jason Levesque is an Auburn businessman and the Republican candidate for Congress from Maine’s 2nd District.