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Detroit News: A better way on the economy, jobs & health care

November 7, 2016
Opinion Editorial
How do we get the economy growing more rapidly, create more good-paying jobs, and make health care more affordable? These are the issues we consistently get asked about around kitchen tables, in coffee shops, and at small businesses as we meet with the people we are privileged to represent.

Diminishing choices and exploding costs of health care are some of many challenges facing hard-working families and Main Street businesses. Here in Michigan, Obamacare premiums are set to skyrocket nearly 17 percent in the coming year, putting an additional strain on people's pocketbooks. Across the country, double-digit rate increases are also in store. Obamacare is simply unaffordable and we need a new approach to health care — not more bureaucracy and unworkable mandates.

Our approach restores the doctor-patient relationship and focuses on increasing competition and lowering costs. To get started, we need to allow purchasing across state lines, allow small businesses and individuals to pool together to increase their purchasing power, expand Health Savings Accounts, and enact common-sense medical liability reform.

The dramatic hike in premiums and out-of-pocket costs is just the latest financial hardship to hit the millions of Americans without work and those living paycheck to paycheck without seeing a raise in years. In order to boost wages and job growth, we need to expand programs to strengthen the skill set of the American workforce and eliminate burdensome red tape that is holding back our economy.

In the 21st century workplace, we understand that not everyone's path to success is the same. That's why the House has supported investing in career and technical education (CTE) programs, helping more individuals in our aspiring workforce obtain the hands-on training they need for in-demand jobs. These positive reforms will empower state and local educators and employers to help more students gain skills for the future.

This House-passed legislation also includes provisions to address burdensome occupational licensure requirements, which can hurt lower-income workers, young people, and entrepreneurs who lack the resources to overcome these regulatory obstacles. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, nearly 1 in 3 jobs now require some level of state-approved license or certification. In 1950 it was 1 in 20. By encouraging states to review their regulatory climate, we can help expand meaningful career opportunities by eliminating unnecessary barriers to job growth.

Sadly, radical and costly regulations imposed by the Department of Labor have stifled our efforts to grow a healthy economy and provide Americans with a more modernized and effective workforce development system. We have stood up against heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all regulations from unelected bureaucrats who are more interested in advancing their personal partisan agenda, and instead have advocated for smarter and more transparent rule-making that does not harm innovation.

These ideas and significantly more are outlined by House Republicans in our "Better Way" plan. It's designed to provide relief for hard-working families and create more pathways for all Americans to pursue their dreams.

Our message to everyone concerned about jobs, paychecks and health care is this: There are better solutions to move our country forward. And we are committed to advancing them.

U.S. Rep. and Majority Whip Steve Scalise serves Louisiana's 1st congressional district. U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg serves Michigan's 7th congressional district. This joint op-ed originally appeared in the November 2 edition of the Detroit News.