May 2012: Government Affairs


Government Affairs

Let’s Release the American Dream Again

There’s a debate in Washington about where jobs come from. Some think they come from the government. President Obama’s economic stimulus plan was based on that principle. The Wall Street Journal calculated that of nearly $1 trillion in spending, 12 cents of every dollar went to something stimulative, like building or repairing national infrastructure. The other 88 cents went to fund bigger government: more of the same tax-and-spend policy that has hurt families, small businesses and contributed to record spending deficits.

There’s a better path forward. I support a fundamentally new approach to economic recovery that looks to the hardworking American worker, instead of government, for new jobs. By reducing the burden of government regulations and simplifying the onerous tax code, we can empower small businesses – the engine of our economy.

The American people need jobs, and they want Congress to work together to help the private sector create those jobs. But lately, Congress has decided to cut out the middle man and try to make those jobs themselves. The trouble is, when the government enters the job market, it tends to crowd out the private sector alternatives. What we’ve seen in the last several years is that the growth of government has made it harder for the private sector to create jobs.

Let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Construction and infrastructure are excellent sources of jobs. Not only do they create jobs directly, but a good infrastructure supports greater economic growth. Roads, pipelines and power lines don’t just empower the men and women who build them; they also benefit the people who use them.

Conceptually, the powers that be in the federal government know this. We know they do, because they wasted millions of our hard-earned tax dollars erecting signs across the country telling us that various infrastructure projects were paid for by the stimulus plans.

But infrastructure spending doesn’t need to come from the government. There are plenty of private sector opportunities that, more often than not, just need the government to get out of the way. The Keystone XL Pipeline is shovel-ready, and it will create tens of thousands of jobs. It’s funded with private investment not tax dollars. It just needs a federal permit – something that’s already taken three years.

For the foreseeable future, Americans will need oil, and that means we need a way to transport it safely. Once built, the Keystone XL pipeline will supply about half the volume of oil that we currently import from the Middle East, further enhancing our energy security by reducing our dependence on oil from politically hostile states. As recent events in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrate with higher prices at the pump, America needs an all-of-the-above energy approach that utilizes domestic sources, in addition to imports from our energy-rich northern neighbor.

Building the Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t about politics or Party. There’s no reason to delay this important decision until after the election. That’s why I introduced legislation to require a decision on Keystone XL within 60 days. It had support from both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, the President chose to reject that bipartisan support.

There are other examples. The federal government has invested millions to help contractors weatherize homes to make them more energy efficient, but at the same time, they have made it harder for private contractors to do private jobs.

One new rule handed down by the Obama Administration impacts many renovations of facilities constructed before 1978. The “Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule” requires contractors to follow new Lead Safe Work Practices that are supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and performed by an EPA certified renovation firm. Construction professionals have to receive training from an EPA-certified trainer, which can cost as much as $250. In addition to ensuring that their employees receive the training, firms have to register with the EPA and be “certified” that they do lead renovation work (at a cost of $300).

The problem is, when the rule was first implemented, the EPA hadn’t offered a sufficient number of training opportunities from the required EPA-certified trainers.

After a lot of effort, we were able to get this problem fixed, but it exemplifies a bigger issue. Lately, the federal government has promoted government-provided jobs. while making it harder to create private-sector jobs doing the same thing.

Regardless of political party, I think we all agree the one thing we could use more of in this country is jobs. For the folks who need those jobs, it doesn’t matter whether they came from – the government or the private sector. I’ll keep working for good-paying jobs in Montana and across the country, because that’s the key to economic recovery.

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