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For many members of Congress, this August recess will be unlike any they’ve experienced in a long time. As elected officials get shouted down at town hall meetings across America, the sheer mistrust toward all-things Washington is palpable.
It’s because the American people are being asked to believe the unbelievable. We’re being told that a $1 trillion health care bill will not add to the deficit, that a $1 trillion national energy tax affecting every business in America will not kill jobs, and that a $787 billion unread spending bill is actually saving our economy.
It is this mind-set and denial of reality that gave us the subprime lending disaster, an IOU-issuing Sacramento, and a dysfunctional Detroit. Simply put, people are fed up. To get America back on the right track, we must re-establish a simple premise: 2+2=4.
In its fight to defeat the Communist Party in 1989, the Polish Solidarity Movement adopted the slogan “for Poland to be Poland, 2 + 2 must always = 4.” For 44 years of communist rule, the Poles had been lied to, in effect told that 2+2=5. To challenge the authority of the communists and prosper as a free society, Solidarity chose this slogan because they knew they had to be grounded in truth and reality.
Unlike communist-era Poland, Americans live in a free society. But our government is not being honest with us. For 20 years, politicians told us there was no problem with putting people who couldn’t afford to buy homes, into homes they couldn’t afford. This was a failure of 2+2=4, and every day we’re seeing the consequences.
When Sacramento, a city run by bureaucrats and politicians who avoid hard spending decisions, is forced to issue IOUs with a $26 billion budget shortfall, this is a failure to admit that 2+2=4.
When Detroit, which graduates 27 percent of its freshmen on time, has one of the country’s most expensive education systems, this is a failure to admit that 2+2=4, and reform.
To get real change, we must be honest about what works. Only then can we find solutions.
It’s a fact that small businesses create most new jobs in America. So if we want to create jobs, we should take steps to liberate small-business owners. A two-year, 50 percent reduction in the payroll tax would immediately free up money for every employer to invest, save or hire new workers, and immediately increase the take home pay for every working American.
It’s a fact that having the highest corporate tax rate doesn’t help our competitiveness. If we want to create more jobs here, we should match Ireland’s corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent.
And just as 2+2=4, China has learned that taxing capital gains reduces investment. It’s for this reason that their capital gains rate is zero. This has helped China achieve the highest level of growth over the past 25 years of any country in the world. Why haven’t we matched them?
Americans are tired of Washington’s “solutions” that are often more about taking care of politicians than creating opportunity for hard-working Americans. If we want America, not China or India, to be the best place in the world to build the next factory, create the next job and invent the next product, we must shift power from politicians to small business, from lobbyists to entrepreneurs, and from bureaucrats to investors.
America is the safest, freest and most prosperous nation in the world because our government exists to protect the individual’s God-given right to live freely and pursue happiness.
That’s the America we’ve been bestowed by our founders. That is our reality. That is our 2+2=4.
If our representatives in Washington today understood that, perhaps back home this August they would find fewer angry crowds and more helping hands, eager to move forward together.
Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI.
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