A GOP Agenda for Economic Growth | Commentary
As Election Day nears, polls consistently show that Americans are waking up to the realities of the past six years of President Barack Obama’s failed leadership.
People who believed they would be able to keep their doctors or healthcare plans found that was not true. Companies that hoped their tax burden would be lessened through comprehensive reforms have instead seen new taxes and requirements piled on top of existing ones. And it didn’t take long to realize that rhetoric about more effective government really meant more executive branch mandates on industries disliked by Democrat leaders.
The decisive GOP edge on the generic ballot indicates that voters want to change Washington by giving Republicans complete control of the legislative branch. If Republicans do take control of the Senate on Election Day, the party can answer the call for change by focusing on three areas: taxation, regulation, and litigation. Reducing burdens in each of these areas will begin to unshackle the American economy.
The Tax Man Cometh
The United States’ corporate tax rate is among the highest for developed nations. Modernizing our tax system and lowering the corporate rate should be high on the agenda for a new Republican Congress.
Every dollar companies have to spend on compliance and additional taxes is a dollar less that can be used to increase wages, provide better benefits or grow the company. In fact, the best way to keep American companies from moving their headquarters to other countries is not through draconian penalties, but through reforming our antiquated tax laws. In addition to lowering the rate, we need to ensure that American companies have the same competitive territorial advantage that most OECD countries have. These steps would restore the U.S. reputation as being a premier destination for investment and assure a leap forward in domestic job creation.
Republicans also already have strong bipartisan support to repeal the medical device tax that was created to help pay for Obamacare. This tax on items like pacemakers, artificial joints, replacement heart valves and defibrillators is already stifling investment and innovation in the medical device world and should be repealed immediately.
Regulatory Pain and Consequences
Washington’s a funny town. The president can give a speech bemoaning “endless regulations” at the same time his Administration’s rulemaking agencies have completely run amok. The National Association of Manufacturers recently released a study in which it found that the cost of doing business in our country is increasing astronomically, with the annual cost of regulations now at more than $2 trillion.
Among my proudest accomplishments during my service in the House of Representatives was the REINS Act. This legislation, whose long-form name is Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny, would require Congress to approve any regulation with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more. Passing the REINS Act and other bills to curtail the Administration’s regulatory agenda should be at the top of a new Republican Congress’s to do list.
Exercising oversight authority is another key area where a Republican Congress can check federal agencies run amok. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling called “the single most unaccountable agency in the history of America,” is only one of many agencies that could benefit from increased congressional oversight.
The Unseen Costs of Frivolous Lawsuits
Litigation may not be an issue that the average American thinks about on a daily basis, but we have the world’s costliest legal system and the effects of phony lawsuits and frivolous claims are felt by everyone.
One way to reduce unnecessary litigation is the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, which passed the House last year. LARA would increase sanctions against lawyers who file baseless and harassing lawsuits. LARA should certainly be on the GOP short list of “must pass” bills in the 114th Congress to help reduce the number of frivolous suits.
Taxation, regulation, litigation. These three issues are at the heart of the economic doldrums we have been meandering through in recent years. For too long, Senate Democrats have sat on the sidelines with little action. A Republic Majority will have the tools and the determination to do something about it.
Geoff Davis is a former U.S. representative from Kentucky and served on the House Ways and Means Committee. He is now a managing partner at Republic Consulting.