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Washington Update: Building a New American Workforce

Washington Update: Building a New American Workforce

From the Desk of Rob Wittman


It has been 40 years since President Ronald Reagan declared in his first inaugural address that ‘government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.’ Those words are just as true today. 

Last week, President Biden unveiled his proposed infrastructure package. Republicans and even a few moderate Democrats alike were shocked to find that not only did the plan dedicate only 6% of its funding to roads and bridges, but that a majority of the proposed spending would go to the priorities of the Green New Deal. As if that were not controversial enough, this plan is built on the notion that government is the solution to everything. It represents a massive expansion of government’s command over the economy and its ability to dictate winners and losers in the marketplace.  To (somewhat) pay for this, President Biden has proposed one of the largest tax hikes in American history. This tax hike is so extreme that it would force American businesses to pay a higher tax rate than in communist China. Creating a competitive disadvantage would, in turn, incentivize businesses to move their operations abroad, costing the United States jobs as we undergo a critical economic recovery. 

To some, raising taxes on corporations to pay for these priorities is the “equitable” thing to do. But what these proponents ignore is that these tax hikes would fall squarely on the shoulders of working-class Americans. Raising the corporate tax rate raises the cost of doing business. This would in turn raise the price of everyday household goods and services, placing a new, hidden burden on the American taxpayer. 

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that 25 percent of the corporate income tax is borne by workers. More recent estimates have concluded that the amount of the corporate income tax borne by workers is closer to 50 percent, and that low-skilled, young, and female employees bear a larger share of the tax burden. That means higher taxes on U.S. businesses translates into fewer jobs and lower wages for American workers. In fact, the data show that for lower income households families bear a larger tax burden on average from corporate income taxes than from individual income taxes. The higher taxes that President Biden is proposing to pay for his plan means fewer jobs, a slower economy and bigger government.

To be clear: we should invest in American infrastructure. But this proposal goes beyond that. What President Biden has proposed represents a massive expansion of government economic control over businesses, workers, and the economy as a whole.  This plan would impose top-down, one-size-fits-all federally mandated regulations that are burdensome to our small businesses. Bigger government is not the answer. It’s the American entrepreneurial spirit—not Washington—that is guiding our nation’s economy forward. We need to get out of the way of our small businesses and let them do what they do best: innovate and help our economy grow.

Our prosperity is no accident. The passion and ingenuity of the American workforce have always been our most powerful economic engine. It’s time for Congress to empower American workers with the skills they need to reach their full potential. Not just in today’s economy, but in the economy of tomorrow as well. We must be focused on creating more jobs and opportunities for all Americans and promoting pro-growth policies to support small businesses. The Government’s role should be to eliminate barriers to success, not create them.

Throughout this week, I have spoken with small businesses across Virginia’s First Congressional District during my Small Business Tour. Faced with a shortage of workers, they’re struggling to meet consumer demand. Building the workforce these businesses need starts with education. To prepare the next generation of Americans to seize the opportunities available, we must invest in Career Technical Education (CTE) and Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Both are necessary to prepare the American workforce with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, even without a four-year degree. These programs often take less than two years, or even as little as a few weeks, to complete, but still qualify students for well-paying jobs. 

Earning those qualifications can begin as early as high school by increasing access to dual enrollment CTE training courses. And just as importantly, high schools can create partnerships with the business community so that students can enter into an in-demand career as soon as they graduate high school. A great example of this is the Northern Neck Technical Center in Warsaw. Here, they even hold a “signing day” for students entering these careers right out of high school. 

Not only are these programs essential to the future of our economy, but the trades developed in CTE programs are essential to rebuilding American infrastructure. That’s why I’m a proud cosponsor of the BUILDS Act, which provides federal grants to build the skilled workforce necessary to support our transportation industry. These funds will strengthen our workforce training programs in infrastructure-industry jobs by creating critical partnerships between schools, local businesses, and industry organizations.

Through programs and partnerships such as these, we give every American a chance to succeed and the freedom to chart their own course in life.  During this Congress, and as always, I will continue working to build an American economy that is pro-worker, pro-family, pro-growth, and most importantly, pro-American.