It has been just over a year since the American people sent a new majority to the House of Representatives, signaling it was time to change the way Washington does business, taking on the tough issues and making the hard choices. 2011 was a good start, but there’s much more to be done in 2012.
Starting with the House Budget, called The Path to Prosperity, we sought to address the long-term drivers of our debt and finally be honest with the American people about the future of our health and retirement programs. According to the annual Medicare and Social Security trustees report, the Medicare hospital insurance fund will run out in 2024—five years earlier than last year’s estimate. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates give Medicare an even worse diagnosis. Within a decade, money for the program runs out. Over 46 million Americans rely on Medicare for their health care, and something must be done soon to save this vital program for future generations.
In The Path to Prosperity, we included a plan to save Medicare; one that increases personalized choice and relies on competition to end wasteful spending, lower costs and deliver high-quality care—all without changing benefits for those 55 and older. Even though we took a lot of heat for our plan, it is worth it if we can build the momentum to make the necessary changes to Medicare so it will be around for our children and grandchildren.
Another effort I truly believe in is reforming the tax code to make it flatter, fairer and simpler for both businesses and individuals. As a Member of the Ways and Means Committee , I have been studying the tax code with my colleagues to understand exactly what changes can be made to improve the tax code and our economy.
The U.S. currently has the second-highest corporate tax rate among the developed nations of the world. The U.S. federal rate of 35 percent is nearly 10 percentage points higher than the average of our competitors. Still, 98 percent of businesses in this country are organized as “pass-through” entities, meaning they pay their business taxes on their individual returns rather than a corporate return, so tax hikes in the individual bracket would hit small businesses hard.
The last fundamental tax reform took place over 25 years ago, and since then our tax system has become overly complex and riddled with loop holes for various corporations. Small businesses and even families must hire expensive accountants to ensure they file correctly. There is a better way and we must all push Congress to take on the challenge sooner rather than later.
While divided government does hamper the progress I and my freshman colleagues would like to make, it is important that the House continue forwarding real solutions to our country’s biggest problems. We must keep presenting our vision for America, where government is smaller, smarter and solutions-based. Washington has been broken for too long. I am working to shake up the old system, and in doing so, move America forward.