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Back to Work

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

While many of us consider work to be a four-letter word, we all know that work can be fun and exhilarating if we are working at becoming better, or using our talents to help others. In such cases, work is transformed from a labor of necessity into a labor of love. Everyone has different talents and interests given to them by God; meaningful work puts those talents to work in areas that not only interest you, but help others, too. There is value in having worked and made a positive difference to others.

After the Labor Day holiday this weekend, most schools will be back in session, summer vacations will be over and, for most Americans, the focus will be on getting stuff done at work or in school until Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Unfortunately, some are no longer working or looking for work. Too many people are discouraged and despondent or disinterested to work. This has a negative effect on our economy. Economists define the potential civilian workforce as all people ages 16 and older who are able to work. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the non-institutionalized civilian workforce who are either working or looking for a job. It does not include those who are discouraged and no longer looking, nor does it include those not interested in working.

The labor force participation rate has fallen from more than 66 percent 10 years ago, to less than 63 percent today. With a lower percentage of people working, it becomes harder to generate more economic growth, it's simple math.

How can we get more Americans working and thereby get our economy moving faster? The formula is easy: fewer regulations, lower taxes and a stable environment. Can it be done? Absolutely.

Under President Reagan's leadership, our economy created almost 20 million new jobs. For this to happen again, we need to understand that business in and of itself is not bad; that it is simply a tool to be used to create value for consumers and jobs for people who want to work. But that tool is an important one -- it's the engine that makes our democracy work.

The Trump administration has already been slashing regulations. And after Labor Day, when the House of Representatives and the Senate go back to work in Washington, they will tackle tax reform. In advance, Speaker Paul Ryan has been touring the country, selling the plan to voters. The goals, according to Ryan, are to "raise wages, increase economic growth, more take-home pay, more productivity, better competition for American businesses who really have their hands tied behind their backs when it comes to competition in the tax code. We all agree with that."

Additionally, while tax reform is often passed as a "temporary measure," meaning it automatically expires on a set date, Ryan has been clear that there should be no automatic sunset clause this time.

While reform is the goal, numerous incentives are slated to stay. They include "charity, homeownership, and retirement savings," according to Ryan. The simplification? Raising the standard deduction and simplifying the cost while reducing the rates and the number of brackets from seven to three. Ryan can imagine having "a postcard sized tax form."

This focus on tax reform and its success is vitally important to congressional leaders in both the House and the Senate. There have been few accomplishments that Congress can point to since Trump took office in January. With all 435 House of Representatives and 33 of 100 Senate seats up for election next year, the focus will be on whether the legislative branch is able to deliver results.

While Democrats, media commentators and others will focus on anything (including The First Lady's choice of footwear on a trip) to create diversions and divisions, Republicans would do well to remind themselves that their focus should be singular and focused on getting stuff done.

We need to champion business and labor and to articulate what we know is true - that America works best when Americans are working. And American voters expect that their elected officials will work together to get stuff done.

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