It Is Far Too Early to Lose Hope in the American Dream

I recently came across several profiles in The Huffington Post's series "All Work, No Pay: The False Promise of the American Economy." I strongly disagree that the promise of America is false, but the moving profiles of Americans struggling to make it in today's economy do tell an important story.

Throughout the analyses in this series, I noticed three themes highlighted with frequency: that the recovery isn't reaching most people, that the economy is rigged in favor of a select few, and that the American dream is slipping away. I am writing to share my thoughts on these three themes, and to explain how I believe conservative reforms will create opportunity for all.

Regarding the first theme, it is true that the economic recovery is not reaching most Americans. Despite improvements in unemployment numbers, wage growth is stagnant, GDP growth is tepid at best, and economic production continues to lag -- all with devastating effects for the middle class and those hoping to reach it.

Regarding the second theme, it is true that our economy is sometimes rigged in favor of a select few. This is the inevitable result of a big government that has extraordinary power over the private economy. When government grows, it benefits those who can afford lobbyists to influence Congress and who can pay lawyers and accountants to help navigate complex tax and regulatory codes.

Regarding the third theme, it is true that the American dream is slipping out of reach for too many Americans. Our leaders have failed to realize that our current economic crisis is not the result of a routine economic downturn but an ongoing structural change to the very nature of our economy. Globalization and technological progress are transforming every industry in America, yet the policies and institutions overseen by our federal government remain stuck in the 20th century.

The profiles in this series illustrate how the current approach has trapped our people. They are trapped by a higher-education system built when only a small percentage of Americans needed college degrees, they are trapped by economic policies designed before we had to compete with other countries for jobs, and they are trapped by anti-poverty programs designed in the 1960s that fail to equip the poor with the tools they need to rise.

Rather than adopting modern ideas, our president and Congress have simply pumped more money into these failing systems. This approach has not worked. I have dedicated my time in the Senate to proposing ideas that will work. They will apply the principles of our founding to the challenges of our time, and in doing so they will modernize the policies and institutions holding our people back. I encourage you to read about those reforms in detail here.

In this post, however, I would like to focus specifically on my most recent proposal. In partnership with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), I have offered an overhaul of our current tax system that would benefit everyone profiled in the HuffPost series. It will spark historic economic growth, which is exactly what our current recovery is missing.

The Tax Foundation found that over the next decade, our reforms would grow the economy by 15 percent, grow wages by 12.5 percent, and create almost 2.7 million full-time jobs. One columnist at Bloomberg View wrote that it would do "more to encourage growth than any [tax code] the U.S. has had since the 1920s."

It will benefit struggling families by abolishing tax penalties that punish parenthood and marriage. It will benefit middle-class parents by letting them keep more of what they earn. It will benefit struggling college graduates by sparking wage growth and creating millions of full-time jobs. It will benefit business owners and their employees by allowing full expensing of investments made to grow their business. It will benefit seniors by eliminating taxes on dividends and bank interest.

It will benefit the unemployed by empowering America to win the global competition for jobs. It will do so by decreasing businesses' tax liability through rate reduction and full expensing, which will in turn lower the cost of capital. It will benefit those earning too little by increasing worker productivity, which will raise wages. The higher the productivity of a business or a worker, the higher the compensation an employer can provide.

From the individual to the business side, our plan would yield a tax code that makes it easier for Americans to find jobs, and easier for businesses to create them. It is a vital step toward restoring the American dream. But it is only one step. This is why I have also proposed dozens of other conservative reforms to go along with it. Together, these policies will create more opportunities for everyone profiled in the HuffPost pieces.

The large headline splashed atop the series is "The American Nightmare," which I assume was meant to contrast with the American dream. While the profiles in this series provide a powerful look at the very real and very understandable despair that is currently coiled around so many Americans, it is important for every reader of these pieces, and every person profiled in them, to know that it is far too early to lose hope.

We can recapture the American dream and bring it into reach for more people than ever before. America's brightest days lie ahead, as long as our leaders in Washington have the courage and vision to seize this moment and fight for common-sense reforms. The 21st-century economy is all about innovation, creativity, and productivity -- and Americans are the most innovative, creative, and productive people on the planet. To unleash their potential in our time, we simply need ideas that embrace the future, an economy that grows dynamically, and a limited government that empowers every American to pursue happiness as they see fit.