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YOUNG: Congress needs up-or-down vote on all federal rules

April 9, 2016

DEBATE QIn light of Carrier Corp.’s decision to move jobs to Mexico, what should the federal government do—if anything—to try to keep manufacturing in the United States?

Young
AGrowing up the son of a small-business owner in Indiana, I learned from an early age that reduced taxes and regulation can spur job creation and increase take-home pay.

Today, as the sole Indiana lawmaker on the chief tax-writing committee in the U.S. House, I know how immensely important pro-growth tax and regulatory policies are to Hoosier manufacturing and the business community.

It’s why I worked within the Ways & Means Committee to eliminate tax increases the Obama administration levied on American manufacturers. We’ve achieved repeals of the most egregious Obamacare taxes and made a number of pro-growth provisions permanent.

However, these successes alone cannot re-create the hospitable business climate that once made the United States the most attractive place in the world to grow a company. 

That’s why I continue to ardently call for a complete overhaul of the tax code to reduce rates for as many Americans as possible.

We know that, in a healthy economy, businesses need access to labor, yet the federal government makes it more expensive to employ people.

We also know that, in a healthy economy, manufacturers need access to capital and markets, yet federal agencies create significant regulatory barriers that make it more difficult to do business.

We’re at a crossroads. Responsible U.S. companies are being forced to either sacrifice market share to global competitors or move production overseas.

To reverse course, we must comprehensively reform the way the federal government taxes and regulates the American economy.

When I was first appointed to the Ways & Means Committee, we were two years into President Obama’s policy of trying to spend our way out of recession.

Fallout from sweeping legislation enacted by the then-Democrat-controlled Congress (think Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank) resulted in higher taxes, limited access to capital, and restrictive mandates on labor.

Today, the government’s involvement in day-to-day business is at an all-time high.

One regional parts manufacturer told me additional full-time employees were hired just to keep up with new regulations. Another employer said no single piece of legislation had presented such a burden as had the Affordable Care Act.

The complexity of federal regulations has increased the costs of operating and put American manufacturers at a disadvantage compared to foreign competitors.

Federal agencies rarely eliminate unnecessary regulations, so the cumulative toll they take on the American economy only gets heavier.

That’s why I’ve introduced the REINS Act, which would require federal agencies to do a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of their work. Any regulation with a major economic impact would then have to come before Congress for an up-or-down vote.

Many of the Obama administration’s most unpopular regulations, such as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan or Obamacare’s many mandates, would likely never have been proposed if first required to pass Congress.

We urgently need these kinds of systemic changes that restore limits to government. The REINS Act already passed the House. The Senate cannot act soon enough. 

When manufacturing is moved offshore, arguments tend to revolve around blame. It’s easy to point fingers, especially in instances where jobs are lost. Yet, we must recognize there are legitimate grievances on both sides.

What we cannot do is let these grievances serve as a proxy for addressing the economic challenges that drive U.S. manufacturing overseas. If we agree to focus on the root causes of the outsourcing trend, we can reverse course and create a better economic environment for all.•

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Todd Young is a congressman representing Indiana’s ninth congressional district. He is also seeking the Republican nomination in the May primary to run for U.S. Senate. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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