As the new Congress begins work, Todd Young’s focus is on solutions for long-neglected issues.
In talking with constituents, businesses and the media, the Bloomington Republican, who represents Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, said he thinks it’s time to get some things done.
“It’s been a real frustration from Hoosiers and members of Congress alike that, in recent years, it just seems like Republicans and Democrats have been talking past one another,” Young said during a recent visit to The Tribune.
“There will be some tough areas where we’re unlikely to get significant progress,” he added. “But there are also, I hope, some real targets of opportunity to help grow the economy at a faster rate and in turn create more jobs and increase hourly wages and incomes. All of that will help make more sustainable important government programs.”
Young said many constituents ask what is being done to create jobs and grow the economy.
Advancing policies that allow people from the bottom up to grow the economy is the only way the economy grows and benefits Americans, he said.
That will require reforming and simplifying the tax code so that people make spending and investment decisions based on where there is demand, said Young, a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
“Our regulatory atmosphere is punishing for our businesses, so we need to change how we do regulations,” he said.
Young introduced a bill, the REINS (Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny) Act, which would require every major regulation to come before Congress for a vote.
“So that we can weed out some of these bad regulations; or more importantly, if we were to have a vote, our constituents could hold their members of Congress responsible for bad regulations,” he said.
Paul Ryan, the committee’s chairman, has said he wants to work with President Barack Obama to ensure there is a more favorable business climate, money can be invested to stimulate work and savings, and tax rates are more competitive as compared with other countries.
“Right now, the real engines of job creation are small businesses,” Young said. “It’s not uncommon for small businesses to pay over 50 percent of their profits away in taxes. If you’re paying 50 percent of your profits away in taxes, you’re going to have a lot fewer small businesses created and stay around for a while and become big businesses.”
Opening up foreign markets for businesses of all sizes also could help the economy, Young said. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement between the United States and 11 countries is being negotiated.
“The idea is to significantly lower barriers to trade, particularly tariff barriers in Japan and in some of these other countries,” he said.
Young said if Obama decides to engage on this bipartisan effort it could be completed by the end of the year.
“It’s never easy to get a trade agreement passed, but it has never been more important as our world continues to become increasingly global and its supply chains and its markets become more specialized,” Young said.
Another issue expressed in the 9th District is infrastructure. People recognize the need to invest in the future, especially if this area is going to be a logistics hub for the country, Young said.
He said his office is working on legislation to facilitate more public-private partnerships.
“Bring more private capital, and then allow that to be used to build your bridges, your roads and so forth,” he said. “Then, we pay back those investors over a period of time based on however each given state thinks is appropriate.”
With the 9th District consisting of several lower-income communities, Young said it’s time to take a fresh look at the nation’s social safety net and all of its programs.
“For too many people, this social safety net has become a cage where they receive in many cases multiple payments from different government programs, and they are literally being paid more to not work than they would be if they go out in the community and try and take a job and do right by their family,” he said.
Young said Congress needs to change how programs work so that they reward work more than joblessness. He said one mechanism is the earned income tax credit.
“That will subsidize lower-income jobs for people that need it, and as they move up the wage scale, they get increasingly less back as a subsidy,” he said.
Young said his office has developed an “Opportunity for All” agenda, which is a social impact partnership bill that would identify and evaluate social policies that are working.
“We would allow our municipalities and states to petition the federal government to replicate those programs in their own states and localities,” he said. “It would be up to local authorities to put together a team to implement and oversee a project and even to raise investment capital to pay all of the people and to scale this thing up.”
Young said the beauty of it is investors would get paid back what they spend and use the money to do more good.
“So you’ve created a virtuous cycle here where, as long as the replication is a successful one, you can continuously help more and more people,” he said.