Full steam ahead on economy

Federal budget season is underway in Washington. As the spending and policy discussions begin, I am going to make sure that the lessons of the past quarter century are not forgotten.

Namely, when American workers and entrepreneurs are left to their own devices, the economy is off to the races.

The results of lower taxes and less regulation are indisputable.

The Wall Street Journal reported that over the preceding 276 months, the U.S. economy was in recession for only 15 months.

In other words, 94% of the time, our economy was expanding.

In fact, over that time, 43 million new jobs and $30 trillion in new wealth were created.

This legacy of extraordinary economic success has not been lost on Congress. We have remained committed to a strong economy by keeping taxes low and regulations light.

Since the May 2003 tax relief, more than 4.5 million jobs have been created. Our unemployment rate is down to its lowest level in nearly five years.

Incomes are rising, home ownership is at an all-time high and the economy continues to steam ahead.

This year, the upward trend is expected to continue nationally and locally.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. released a report that predicts L.A., San Bernardino and Riverside counties will see more than 60,000 new jobs in 2006. Personal incomes will also continue to grow.

The report forecasts L.A. County personal incomes will increase by 6% in 2006 while San Bernardino and Riverside counties will enjoy a 7.2% increase.

This will support an already booming retail market.

In the face of such great progress and potential, the worst thing to do would be to give up on the policies of lower taxes and fewer government roadblocks that got us here.

Of course, there is one more critical ingredient for a sound economy: reducing the deficit. Last year we slashed it by nearly a quarter.

This year we have our work cut out for us with the added costs from the hurricanes and the global War on Terror.

But there is no more appropriate time than the start of the new year to make a resolution for belt-tightening, and that's just what we need to do on the federal level.

If we stick with proven pro-growth, fiscally responsible policies, our country and our communities will be more prosperous and the American dream will be within reach of more people than ever before.

* DAVID DREIER represents the 26th District, which includes part of Glendale, La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge.

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