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Price Op-Ed in RealClearPolitics: A Healthy Economy For All

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Washington, January 23, 2015 | comments
By Rep. Tom Price - January 23, 2015 - Permalink

President Obama calls higher taxes, more bureaucracy and Washington spending “middle class economics.” Yet it’s those economic policies that have created a recovery that’s been particularly lousy for America’s middle class.

Wages have stagnated; median income is down and GDP growth is worse than any recovery in the modern era. According to the most recent data available from the Federal Reserve, real median household income for the middle fifth of families has fallen by 6 percent since 2010. At the same time, the top ten percent of families have seen their real median household income increase by 2 percent.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks calls this an “asymmetrical recovery.” Under President Obama, it is called the new normal. The middle class is getting left out of the nation’s economic recovery.

The president can talk all day about “shared prosperity,” but after he and his allies in Congress spent years constructing barriers to economic opportunity – that they are now feverishly promoting and protecting – you get these unhealthy results. When you put in place a program like Obamacare – which, in addition to harming access to quality health care, takes power out of the hands of individuals, families and entrepreneurs and puts it in the hands of Washington – you make it harder and more costly for job creators to grow jobs and increase wages. When you block the exploration and production of energy resources, American workers lose out on jobs and energy security. When the president proposes once again to raise taxes to ensure the wealthy “pay their fair share” you get a scenario where everyone else ends up paying the price; including small businesses that often file as individuals instead of corporations.

While it may come as a surprise to those in the White House, higher taxes, needless regulations, and an overcharged, inefficient Washington bureaucracy are all barriers to growth and opportunity.

If what the president is proactively doing were not harmful enough, what he’s refusing to do is far worse. President Obama’s unwillingness or inability to address our looming debt crisis harms today’s working families and will be particularly painful for the next generation as well. On our current course, America is going to rack up $5.2 trillion alone in interest payments on the debt in the next ten years. If we allotted those payments to taxpayers, it would be $300 more per month out of the pockets of hard-working folks. That is money that cannot be used to support health care, transportation, education or a strong national defense. It is just another burden on millions of Americans already struggling to get by.

President Obama and his Democrat allies will claim they want to do something about the nation’s fiscal challenges by taking more money out of the pockets of families and businesses. But, like so many other grand schemes from this administration, the math just does not add up. Even if Washington were to tax every single dollar of every single millionaire in the country, it would generate roughly $1.3 trillion in revenue – or enough to fund the government for about four months out of the year.

A failure to address our debt challenges with a serious, realistic and long-term reform plan means the nation’s fiscal and economic well-being will only get worse.

Republicans are not willing to let our nation be condemned to this future. That is why we are focused on solutions that will increase economic opportunity and create a healthy economy to help benefit all Americans.

Our opportunity agenda says that policymakers ought to embrace the can-do attitude of American workers and the creative spirit of entrepreneurs and innovators. That means getting the debt under control by putting forward a balanced budget that allocates tax dollars more effectively and efficiently. It means strengthening and securing vital health and retirement programs that benefit millions of Americans but also represent the overwhelming majority of government spending. It’s reckless and irresponsible to ignore the fact that these programs are on an unsustainable path.

At the same time, we need to reform the tax code so it is simpler and fairer, while streamlining regulations so that Washington stops trying to run our lives and instead focuses on its core responsibilities.

These actions will build the foundation for long-term prosperity, strengthen our communities and enhance the quality of life for more American families. They will empower individuals and build a healthy economy that encourages and rewards innovation, entrepreneurship, optimism, and creativity. With more jobs and increased wages, it will be easier to address our debt challenges, and in the long-term, we will have a healthier economy.

That’s not just good for one group of Americans. That’s good for every American.

Rep. Tom Price is Chair of the House Budget Committee.
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