News Column

Spurring Economic Growth

July 11, 2014



WASHINGTON, July 11 -- Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, R-Pa. (16th CD), issued the following op-ed:

It's been nearly five years since the collapse of the housing market and Wall Street investment firms led to greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. The recovery from that crisis has been the weakest and slowest by almost any measure. Economic weakness makes almost every problem our government deals with harder to grapple with. Building an economically strong nation has to be our top priority.

I don't believe economic strength starts with the government, but it can certainly be restrained by government mandates, inefficiencies and incompetence. The government has a role in protecting citizens and ensuring equal opportunity, but when it comes to running businesses, government is a lousy CEO.

I've recently updated my memo to constituents on how I think we create jobs and economic growth. First of all, I lay out some of the things I've been personally working on that would create and protect jobs locally.

As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, I worked across party lines to pass legislation to reform the Food and Drug Administration to stop American pharmaceutical and medical device jobs from leaving the country. The FDA has to strike a careful balance between ensuring safety and allowing innovative products to move forward. Both Democrats and Republicans recognized that FDA regulations had become unpredictable with bureaucracy building up over the years.

The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act was signed by the President in 2012. Since then, I've been working to make sure that the law's innovations are implemented and that American companies can continue to grow and work on new cures.

One of the ways government hampers job growth is by picking winners and losers in the marketplace. Government programs can protect the jobs of one industry, but it often means someone else in the economy is losing out. The USDA sugar program is one of the worst offenders in government. A Department of Commerce study found that the program destroyed three jobs in sugar using industries for each job in sugar growing industries that it protected. I've been working across party lines to reform this program and create a level playing field that doesn't guarantee the profits of a handful of sugar barons.

The 16th District is known for its rural beauty and farmland, but also has a center for industry. Both farming and manufacturing are dependent on the energy sector. Crops don't get planted and harvested and products don't get made without machinery and electricity.

I've been working on the Energy and Commerce Committee on bills that can keep energy prices low and stable. Last year, the President signed legislation to make it easier to upgrade aging hydropower facilities. The House has also passed the Electricity Security and Affordability Act and the Energy Consumers Relief Act to help keep electricity affordable for individuals and for industries. I believe we will see more jobs right here at home if we continue to get more of our energy from domestic sources and from close allies.

While I believe that each of these efforts is a good positive step toward creating jobs, I think there are some big things that we could do that would have a much greater impact on the economy.

First, we need tax reform that encourages American job creation and that works for every American, not just the people who can afford the best lawyers and accountants. By simplifying the tax code, increasing the child tax credit and encouraging companies to invest their overseas profits in the U.S. we can help American families and encourage American companies to grow here at home.

Next, I support President Obama's effort to negotiate new free and fair trade deals with our Pacific Rim and European trading partners. Free trade agreements make sure that American companies can compete on a level playing field.

Finally, we should work toward a sensible balanced budget for the federal government. According to economists, the government debt has reached a level where it constrains economic growth. At the rate the debt is growing, interest payments will soon be the largest line item in the annual budget. That hurts the economy.

What I've written here is just a summary of the full memo. Visit Pitts.house.gov/Jobs to read my plan.

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