One of my favorite nicknames for America is "Land of Opportunity."  However, after what Americans have experienced in recent years, that's become harder and harder to believe.

  • Since 2008, median household income has declined by 8.7 percent.
  • Since 2010, more small businesses have closed than have opened.  (Worst in 80 years)
  • Because so many Americans have simply given up on finding a job, the labor force participation rate is 62 percent. (Worst in 40 years)
  • The largest contributor to American wealth is home ownership. Only 63 percent of Americans now own a home.  (Worst in 50 years)
  • Two-thirds of Americans now believe their kids won’t have the same opportunities they’ve had. 

Eight years ago we were promised hope and change, and boy did we get it. Just not the kind of change we'd hoped for.

We have to recognize that these harrowing facts are signs of a still struggling economy that is hindering growth and limiting Americans. Our current economy is a direct result of the lack of American competitiveness, which is stifled under outdated, decades-old policies coupled with massive growth of government and the burdensome rules enacted by the Obama administration.

Under President Obama, big companies and small businesses alike have been inundated with regulations. When you look up the word regulation in the dictionary, synonyms include “control” and “supervision.”  With a VA nearly corrupt beyond repair, Social Security reaching bankruptcy, and welfare programs that don’t uplift people but instead trap them in poverty, how can we in good faith give the government more control over our country?

This administration has averaged 81 major regulations per year since 2008. Last year, these regulations cost the United States $1.89 trillion in lost growth and productivity.

Take, for example, the disastrous Dodd-Frank regulation law passed in 2010 after the financial crisis. This law is estimated to have created $24 billion in compliance costs and 61 million hours in paperwork for businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, the cost of federal regulations on a small business of less than 20 employees is $10,585 per employee, per year.

Another legacy of regulations enacted by this administration is ObamaCare. Fifty-nine percent of small business owners in America say ObamaCare costs have negatively impacted their business. The confusion of this law is a headache for owners and results in thousands of dollars in compliance fees. How are small business owners supposed to thrive if their already-limited resources are running dry trying to comply with a tangled mess of redundant government mandates?

Small businesses aren’t the only ones suffering from regulations that stifle competition. Under our current tax system, the corporate tax rate puts America at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world. Currently, our corporate tax rate is 35 percent -- the highest of any developed country on Earth. In 1960, 17 of the 20 largest global companies were headquartered in the United States. As of this year, that number has fallen to just six. Compare the U.S. corporate tax rate to Ireland’s 12.5 percent rate or even 17 percent in Singapore, and it’s no wonder corporations ship operations overseas and take jobs with them.

The solution to our problems is growing opportunity, not government. The way to grow opportunity is to focus on American competitiveness and roll back the absurd amount of regulations that are stifling economic growth.

This is not a Democrat versus Republican issue; this is an America versus the world issue. What we have to recognize is there are people around the world who get up every day in different countries with the sole goal of figuring out how to beat America economically. There’s nothing wrong with that, the only problem is President Obama refuses to compete. Other countries are winning because we have burdensome policies driving our country.

As a government official, I know everything we do should be viewed through the lens of restoring American competitiveness. When businesses and people are able to compete, our country is at its prime, our economy is stronger and the quality of life improves for all Americans.

Restoring American competitiveness is a priority for our country now more than ever. Congress will continue to work against this administration’s flawed proposals and instead focus on policy that helps restore America’s place in the world. But it’s up to voters to decide what kind of path America will travel the next four years. Will it be a path of more control or will it be a path of restoring America’s competitive spirit?

I think it’s time to make America competitive again.

Congressman Tom Rice represents South Carolina's 7th District and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee.