Every day as I travel Michigan's 1st Congressional District, I speak with people who have lost their jobs -- or who have a neighbor, family member, or friend who can't find work. Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country -- 14 percent -- and was recently rated the hardest state in the nation to find work in. There are 8.24 job seekers for every available position in Michigan. In contrast, Washington, D.C. -- the easiest place to find work -- only has 0.82 unemployed individuals per job opening. That is unacceptable and proves that the federal stimulus package -- containing nearly $1 trillion in spending -- has failed and stimulated nothing but government.
Throughout this campaign, I have stressed that Congress needs to cut spending, cut taxes, and cut government regulation. This includes extending the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003. Failure to do so would constitute the largest tax increase in American history. Until these steps are taken, there will be continuing uncertainty for businesses in Northern Michigan -- and around the country. We need to create an atmosphere of certainty where businesses are confident about the taxes and regulations they will face so they can begin to hire again.
It is ironic that, in the run-up to elections, every politician seems to be the best friend of small business. Unfortunately, when many of those same politicians are elected, they forget that small businesses must be encouraged -- not inhibited -- by the government. After all, small business -- not big government -- is the real engine of economic growth.
A prime example of this unfortunate hypocrisy comes from my opponent, State Rep. Gary McDowell. Although Rep. McDowell claims to support small business, he voted for a $1.35 billion tax package -- one of the largest in Michigan's history -- that raised the state income tax 11.5 percent and expanded the 6 percent sales tax to 23 new services. The sad reality is that these taxes hikes were devastating to small business owners and cost people their livelihoods.
When I speak about my plans, I sometimes hear concerns that Republicans failed to make positive change when they last held power. I would be the first to admit that Republicans made mistakes in the past. Our party lost sight of its core conservative principles by spending too much and increasing the size of the federal government. When Democrats took control of Congress, they made these problems even worse.
As a congressman, I will seek to avoid the mistakes of my predecessors by adhering to my "4R's Pledge" -- to read legislation before voting on it, reduce taxes and the size of government, repeal ObamaCare, and reform government to bring it back in line with the Constitution. This pledge constitutes my immediate goal and a long-term promise to the people of Michigan's 1st District.
As a surgeon, I have 30 years of experience dealing with and solving serious problems. I do not have all the answers, but I will enthusiastically apply my skills and work to find them. I am confident that the next Congress will be able to act where the current Congress has remained tragically silent.
Together, we can return our government to the people and put the people back to work.