How to jump-start the economy
By: Rep. John A. Boehner
September 14, 2010 04:32 AM EDT

Americans have had enough of bailouts, government takeovers and stimulus spending sprees. All have combined to create massive uncertainty for businesses large and small, and our economy is showing the effects.

The country has lost confidence in Washington — and rightly so.

Our government is lurching from one crisis to the next, with no thought, context or concept of how it affects the bigger picture. The results aren’t there, and the leaders aren’t, either. Many Democrats return to Washington this week after spending the past month trying to run away from their party’s job-killing agenda. All the panicking and infighting only distract from the urgent challenges at hand.

We need a fresh start built on a clear message and a responsible blueprint to help get people working again.

That’s why House Republicans have proposed a two-point plan for immediate, bipartisan action to help jump-start our sputtering economy. This plan calls on both parties to work together and take the following actions this month:

Cut nonsecurity government spending for the next year to fiscal 2008 levels — before all of the bailouts, government takeovers and stimulus spending sprees began. Exceptions should be made for programs affecting seniors, veterans and national security. This legislation would provide the fiscal discipline economists say is needed to promote private-sector job creation.

Having failed to pass — or even propose — a budget, Washington Democrats will try to get away with continuing to spend at the current inflated levels. We cannot allow that to happen. Our proposal would save taxpayers nearly $100 billion in the first year alone.

Enact a two-year freeze on all current tax rates to stop job-killing tax hikes on families and small businesses. This legislation would help ease the uncertainty employers and entrepreneurs are facing so they can get back to creating jobs. Raising taxes will only hurt an already weakened job market. Peter Orszag, the president’s former budget director, agrees — which is why he endorsed a two-year freeze in a column published Sept. 6 by The New York Times.

This will help remove impediments to growth and give our economy a true chance to recover, instead of being left to wallow in the disproven notion that we can spend our way back to prosperity. By taking these common-sense steps together, we can show the American people we’re listening and we’re ready to do what needs to be done to get our economy moving again.

In addition to setting out a plan to boost the economy now, Republicans are finalizing a clear and positive governing agenda focused on addressing the American people’s priorities.

In May, Republicans launched the America Speaking Out project, led by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), to engage the American people in the creation of this new governing blueprint. Online and at town hall meetings, Americans are sharing solutions for building a more responsive government and a better country. All you have to do is log on to, post an idea or a comment and vote on someone else’s.

This agenda won’t be a Washington-knows-best document handed down by Washington know-it-alls pushing the same-old, same-old. It is certainly not the product of political-season panicking among Washington insiders stuck on a ship of fools. We have been building this agenda from the ground up by listening to the American people.

For his part, President Barack Obama continues to demonstrate that he is not listening to the American people. He has ruled out any compromise on his proposal to raise taxes on families and small businesses. He wants Congress to move forward with a plan that, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, would raise taxes on half of small-business income in America. The president has also proposed more of the same failed stimulus spending that has led to fewer jobs and more debt.

The president wants Congress to spend September debating his plans for more spending and higher taxes. While this is a discussion Republicans welcome, it’s not one Washington should be having now.

Our time to act is running short. The House is scheduled to be in session for roughly 10 more days before adjournment. Instead of staggering from one failed policy and muddled message to the next, let’s listen to the American people and use this time to work together to focus on fixing our economy.

Let’s cut spending and stop the tax hike — now.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is the House minority leader.