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Making job creation an attractive proposition

POSTED: July 20, 2012 7:00 a.m.

When the latest jobs report was issued the first week of July showing 8.2 percent unemployment, it was not a shock. While we may not be in a formal economic recession, the recovery we so desperately need has yet to appear.

While the unemployment rate seems to be leveling around 8 percent - still too high - the rate is staying where it is because so many people have left the workforce. Since 2009, the labor force participation rate has declined steadily to its lowest level in a generation - and about one-in-three able-bodied, non-elderly adults are not working. Among those who are part of the workforce calculation, but still looking for a job, they can expect to spend 40 weeks, on average, finding one. In January 2009, it took half as much time.

In Washington, there is a stark contrast between the solutions to get America moving again. On the one hand, politicians could spend more borrowed money on repeating failed initiatives like the stimulus or and more welfare programs. Or, we could simply improve conditions that affect job creation in the United States.

First, the Bush-Obama tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year. Businesses of all sizes will be affected when suddenly investors have less to invest and consumers have less to spend. I believe all of the Bush-Obama tax cuts should be extended now and fundamental tax reform passed early next year - including reduced rates for businesses and individuals, broadening the base by repealing hundreds of billions in tax subsidies, and enacting other significant reforms.

Second, the House has voted to repeal the President's health care law, and we will continue to work toward another solution that is affordable and provides the access Americans need. Nearly three-in-four small businesses surveyed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce say that that law will negatively impact their abilities to hire. Such a statistic is not surprising; after all, the President's health care law will drive up the costs of offering health insurance and discourage employers from hiring additional workers. Under the law, a business will be required to offer health insurance if it has more than 50 employees; why hire the 51st?

Ultimately, we need to move away from the system that associates an individual's health insurance to his or her employment. Such a system may have worked 70 years ago when a worker may have stayed with the same business for his entire career, but not for the self-employed, the retired or unemployed, or a modern economy where Americans change jobs often. Rather than an employer-based or bureaucrat-centric (as ObamaCare is) system, we need a patient-centered alternative that allows individuals to make their own health decisions.

Third, we need an economic climate that favors investment and job creation here in America. Excessive government deficits and debt as well as regulation make America an unappealing place to do business.

Unless and until we fix the tax code, implement health care reform that encourages competition and lowers costs, scale back overregulation, and put an end to out-of-control government spending, we can expect more bad news on jobs. Out-of-work Americans can wait no longer for Congress and the President to make job creation an attractive proposition again.

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