During his State of the Union speech and again with the unveiling of his budget three weeks ago, President Barack Obama's tagline has been that government innovation and investment will enable us to "win the future."
But after two years and billions of dollars spent trying to sell the idea that bigger government can solve our problems, the American people are at best deeply skeptical that the president's vision of government spending and expansion is right for our country.
For all the costly programs the president has pushed — from the stimulus to bailouts to government-run health care — our economy continues to slowly crawl out of a three-year recession and the national debt continues to grow. Unemployment is still hovering around 9 percent across the country, and in one of the counties in my new Congressional district, it's more than 15 percent. Businesses across the country want to grow, but they still aren't hiring.
Like many of my colleagues, I was sent to Washington, D.C., to shrink the size of government so that the real job creators, American businesses, can get our economy moving again. The Republican takeover of the House was a rebuke of the president's big-government policies. The American people wanted a check and balance, and the Ways and Means Committee will give it back to them.
This Congress is here to tackle the big challenges: getting Americans back to work, cutting spending, repealing the health care law, reforming the individual and corporate tax code, and creating a more business-friendly environment. The Ways and Means panel will be on the front lines on all of these issues.
Where the president has signaled he would like to work with us on common goals — such as reforming the corporate tax code — I know that my colleagues and I are happy to work with him on common-sense solutions.
Regardless, during the next two years we Republicans on Ways and Means will continue to hold the president accountable for his agenda, while working to dismantle the job-destroying policies that he supports. We will be on the front lines, taking on serious issues and forwarding real solutions on behalf of the American people.
As a small-business owner and a registered nurse for more than 40 years, my top priorities are repealing the president's costly health care law and getting government out of the way so individual Americans can invest and innovate to get our economy growing again. That's why my constituents sent me here, and as a member of Ways and Means, these issues will be my focus.
Recently we passed out of committee a repeal of the onerous 1099 tax-reporting provision in the health care law — something that would bury American small businesses in paperwork. We even went a step further, proposing to eliminate the 1099 reporting requirement for families that do something as simple as rent out a room.
Our committee's bill would be paid for by eliminating waste and fraud, reclaiming overpaid insurance subsidies to those who misreport their income. This common-sense solution is estimated to reduce the deficit by about $166 million over the next 10 years.
Solutions like 1099 repeal are what the American people want from this Congress. The Ways and Means Committee will continue to enact policy solutions that don't add to the debt or hide their true cost with accounting gimmicks.
As part of the committee's work to dismantle the job-destroying policies of the past two years, we will first lay them bare and demand answers from administration officials.
It has been almost two years since the president's health care overhaul started its path through Congress. The law infamously slashes Medicare funding for programs that so many seniors rely on. Yet last month was the first time the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator appeared before a House committee to testify — and it was because the new Republican majority on Ways and Means finally called him forward.
This is just the beginning of our committee's work. Ways and Means will continue to show that the president's rhetoric does not match reality. We will put the breaks on out-of-control spending and show that big government is the problem and not the solution. We're ready to do the hard work and accomplish what the American people sent this Congress here to do — enact real solutions and get Americans working again.
Rep. Diane Black is one of two freshman Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee. She was elected with 67 percent to succeed Democrat Bart Gordon, who retired, in Tennessee's 6th district (Middle Tennessee — Murfreesboro).
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.