A New Direction for the Energy and Commerce Committee

Nearly 15 million Americans are looking for work and a Newsweek poll in September found that 63 percent of Americans expressed concern over maintaining their current standard of living.  Many fear that this is not a cyclical economic downturn that will improve, but rather a dynamic shift in the fundamental economy with long-term negative consequences.

The voters spoke loud and clear that they want our nation to move in a new direction.  Now that Republicans will soon control the House of Representatives, we must deliver the public’s agenda, and the Energy and Commerce Committee will become a platform for promoting economic growth and job creation. 

When I left the Air Force, I went into the private sector, working in the corporate world and learning how big businesses operate.  I then started my own business, building it up from one hotel to several hotels and restaurants.

This business grew to over 120 employees, requiring me to deal with the barriers and regulations that hinder business, talking with investors to build capital, evaluating the risks and the potential, and working to develop benefits for my employees.

This experience outlines an ambitious agenda for the Energy and Commerce Committee, foremost is creating jobs.  In addition, we need to repeal, replace, and reform the Democrat health care plan.  This plan includes tax hikes, burdensome mandates on small business and takes control away from doctors and hands it over to unelected federal bureaucrats.

The Committee also must exercise vigorous oversight on health care and the other issues under its jurisdiction.  Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius has testified before the committee only once on health care, and that was before the bill’s passage.

In addition, we should examine the rules defining what is a medical expense to meet the new Medical Loss Ratio standard, have Dr. Donald Berwick, the unconfirmed head of CMS, testify about his statements regarding rationing health care and his admiration for the British, single-payer health care system, and investigate waivers from the law’s minimal coverage requirements granted by the administration

We also must hold the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accountable for their plan to regulate CO2 as a greenhouse gas and prevent them from imposing a national energy tax on U.S. manufacturers and utilities.  In addition, we should develop a comprehensive energy production and conservation policy that utilizes all of our domestic energy resources.  Our goals must be nothing less than total energy independence.

Broadband is a perfect example of how technology can create new products and services, generating badly needed jobs. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a non-partisan think-tank, a $10-billion investment in broadband networks will create an estimated 498,000 new jobs, with 262,050 in small businesses. 

I see the potential of broadband for revitalizing a large sector of the economy.  Creating a friendlier climate through tax incentives and removing unnecessary regulations will carry us toward a true 21st century economy that competes better globally.

Going beyond its traditional routines, the Energy and Commerce Committee should hold a series of jobs and investment conferences around the country to discuss how the future of American job growth is in technology and how innovation can create millions of new jobs for future generations.

In better serving the American people, the Energy and Commerce Committee should move beyond Washington and hold town meetings and listening sessions throughout the nation.  While in the field, we should call upon the real experts – the American people – to share their ideas.  Also, we could bring those with the best ideas to testify in Washington.  

Unfortunately, dissent within the Energy and Commerce Committee threatens to derail this agenda for change.  The Committee even faces a severe reduction in its jurisdiction, with talk of removing its energy portfolio.  This move would squander the experience and talent held by Committee members, and must note be done.

The next chair should unite all the interests in the Committee by sharing the values of the conservative base that elected this new Congress, by having direct business experience to promote economic growth, and by having a record of accomplishments within the Committee.  Above all, the chair should have direct experience in creating jobs. I believe that I have those qualities and would unify the Energy & Commerce Committee.