Economic Policy Must Let Entrepreneurs and Innovators Rev the Economic Engine

graham-head-shot-tight-285x300By Senator Lindsey Graham, 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate

Senator Lindsey Graham, 2016 Republican Presidential CandidateOur economy is in a stranglehold. Mounting debt and regulatory burdens are stifling growth and job creation, and no one is feeling the pressure more than the Middle Class. This is the very unfortunate but completely predictable result of the Obama Economic Doctrine. President Obama – along with his partner and aspiring successor, Hillary Clinton – believes that opportunity and prosperity are created by the government.

Most Americans know better. Anyone who has ever helped start, run, or grow a business knows very well that opportunity and prosperity come from private enterprise and hard work. They also know all too well that excessive regulatory burdens and uncertainty, along with ballooning public debt, prevent free enterprise from thriving.

I am running for president because I have a plan and the political courage to take on both our debt and our bureaucratic morass so that we can finally allow the U.S. economy to break free from the most anemic recovery since the Great Depression.

Unlike so many piecemeal proposals that have come before, my plan to tackle the debt and address the looming retirement of nearly 80 million Baby Boomers will succeed because it takes a comprehensive approach. Democrats love to say we can fix the problem by taxing our way out of it. Republicans love to say we can fix the problem by cutting our way out of it. Many leaders, on both sides of the aisle, like to simply bury their heads in the sand and pretend the problem isn’t there or will go away on its own.

We have a ballooning entitlement system that will go broke and then consume all government revenue in the next decade and a half. Our unfunded entitlement liabilities – government promises that exceed our ability to pay for them – are projected to reach an astounding $70 trillion. This is a looming crisis of almost incomprehensible proportions. We can’t tax, cut, or grow our way out of it. Our only option is a comprehensive reform agenda, in which both sides come to the table and makes sacrifices together.

We must cut wasteful spending. We must reform and simplify our tax code, including capping or limiting deductions, so that we can lower overall tax rates while bringing in new revenue. We must make common-sense changes to our entitlement programs, like asking younger workers to work longer because they’re living longer and asking wealthy retirees to take less money in benefits. If we take an all-of-the-above approach together, we will make our social safety net solvent and sustainable, rein in our debt, and make our economy more globally competitive.

On the regulatory front, we have to undo the damage of the Obama presidency. Obamacare looms over every business in America, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. Uncertain health care costs, incentives to reduce workers’ hours, and barriers to hiring new workers are all direct results of Obamacare, and they are considerable barriers to a growing economy and workforce.

Dodd-Frank just passed its five-year anniversary, and its damaging effects are very clear. Today it is harder than ever for individuals and small businesses to get access to the capital necessary to start or expand a business. Formation of new community banks has ground to a halt, while the banking community has been saddled with layers upon layers of bureaucracy.

EPA regulations on carbon emissions are holding back American energy production, creating uncertainty in energy prices, hindering the creation of energy-sector jobs, and limiting the enormous economic and national security gains to be had from a concerted drive for energy independence.

In all three cases, we have challenges that needed to be addressed, but President Obama stepped in and actually made things worse with heavy-handed, misguided regulation. As president, I would undo this damage. I would repeal and replace programs like Obamacare that are just too flawed to be fixed. I would reform programs like Dodd-Frank that went too far and did more harm than good. And I would replace programs like the EPA regulations on carbon with free-market solutions that will protect our environment without slowing growth or hindering our goal of energy independence.

America’s entrepreneurs and innovators are revving their engines. They’re ready to shift into high gear and help this economy surge forward. All they need is for their leaders in Washington to lift the brakes and get out of the way. I am running for president because it’s time we stop holding our economy back with excessive red tape and unsustainable debt. I will put an end to both.