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Real Solutions

June 17, 2008
Weekly Columns

Last week the Republican members of the U.S. House unveiled an economic agenda designed to lower gas prices, eliminate wasteful government spending and prevent tax increases.  These policies, if enacted, will help fix a broken Washington and support long-term economic growth.         

Skyrocketing energy prices threaten to throw America's economy into a full blown recession.  Families and small businesses are feeling the pinch of these high prices which are squeezing family budgets and putting our national economy at risk. And as if this weren't bad enough, the leadership of the House of Representatives is preparing to allow the largest tax increase in American history to take effect in order to pay for wasteful pork barrel spending.  This is not the "change" that the American people are asking for.

The change the American people want and deserve is one that will increase domestic energy production and invest in technologies that reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  It is common sense policies that keep taxes low and eliminate wasteful spending.  And it is a rejection of mindless partisan posturing that prevents our leaders from genuinely addressing the very significant challenges facing our country.  I believe the plan we laid out last week goes a long way toward achieving these goals.

In the long term we need to invest in technologies that improve our access to renewable and alternative sources of fuel such as wind, nuclear energy and clean coal-to-liquid technology.  But there is much that can and should be done to drive prices down in the short term as well.  First and foremost, we absolutely must begin to develop our abundant domestic resources.  It is long past time for us to drill the Outer Continental Shelf, as well as the Alaskan Coastal Plain.  This can be done in an environmentally responsible way so there is absolutely no reason to keep these areas "off-limits" when gas prices are rapidly climbing towards five dollars a gallon.

In addition to adopting policies that bring down the high costs of energy, Congress needs to take steps to keep taxes low.  Unless they take action to extend or make permanent the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, taxes will go up dramatically in the immediate future.  Income taxes, capital gains taxes and estate taxes will all rise.  The marriage penalty will return and child tax credits will be slashed by fifty percent.  Combined with staggering energy prices, this kind of tax hike will be catastrophic to the U.S. economy.

Finally, we need to protect the American taxpayer from free-spending Washington DC politicians and their pork barrel projects.  The Republican plan will balance the budget by 2012, reduce the size of government and prohibit federal spending from growing faster than the economy. During these tough times when American families are having to tighten their belts and reprioritize their budgets it's only fair that the federal government do likewise.