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By George Allen

Traveling throughout Virginia I have had the privilege to listen to many true job creators - the small business owners of Virginia. They are our country's innovators and the future of our economy and I have deep admiration for their courage and optimistic spirit.

But whether they are from Clarksville or Manassas, Bristol or Chesapeake, or Winchester to Virginia Beach have heard similar concerns that the federal government has become an obstacle to Virginia's small businesses.

The three years since President Obama took office have not been good to the families and small businessmen and women of Virginia.

Washington's explosive government spending and borrowing binge has swelled the national debt to a shocking $15.2 trillion. This irresponsible behavior undermines our economy and led to the downgraded creditworthiness of our country for the first time in U.S. history.

The President's counterproductive energy policies have contributed to the high price of gasoline which has risen from an average of $1.85 in January 2009 to $3.39 today. That translates to an extra $25 to $30 out of the pocket of Virginia families each and every time they fill up their gas tank. And the higher gasoline prices are having a real impact on businesses engaged in tourism, the food industry, shipping, farming, and especially families that live in the suburbs and rural areas.

The Obama Administration has pushed thousands of costly regulations and imposed project labor agreements labor contract requirements that direct federal contracts to unionized companies, of which few are small businesses.

Washington's most egregious over-reach is the new government-controlled health care law. Obamacare comes up in conversations everywhere I go.

Small business leaders say that the uncertainties and costs associated with Obamacare's regulations and mandates are hampering or will impede their ability to hire and expand their businesses.

Given this record, it is not surprising that small businesses - which in good times create 70 percent of all jobs in America - has lost 2.5 million jobs under President Obama's watch. Nor is it surprising that our nation has seen 35 consecutive months of unemployment above 8 percent since Mr. Obama became President. After all, American small business is the best job creation machine but the policies coming out of Washington have thrown up barriers and damaged their ability to create new jobs.

Small business is so crucial to our nation's strength and prosperity. Therefore, I believe we must and can work together in Washington to get America creating jobs again.

By focusing on the vitality of small business, we can reinvigorate the entrepreneurial spirit of America. Gone will be obstacles, interference, and crippling costs. In their place, we will have positive tax, reasonable regulatory, productive energy, and empowering education policies that will give Americans a competitive advantage for jobs, investment, and prosperity.

I know it won't be easy to change the ways of Washington, but the stakes are too high not to try. Even in the face of continued strife and gridlock, I know from experience that people of both parties can work together and take positive steps to get our country back on track.

When I was elected Governor of Virginia, the Democrats controlled the General Assembly. Working together, we cut taxes by more than $600 million; made neighborhoods safer by abolishing the dishonest, lenient parole system; enacted historic welfare reforms; and reduced the size of government.

We also achieved dramatic growth in Virginia's economy - creating more than 300,000 net new private sector jobs just in the four years I served as Governor.

Sure, Republicans and Democrats had disagreements along the way. But we resolved those differences to produce tangible results for the people of Virginia instead of scoring political points.

That's what Virginians and Americans are looking for in Washington today.

We can apply that same formula and help small businesses spark a genuine comeback for America with empowering tax, regulatory, energy, and education policies that help us recapture the promise of the American Dream for future generations and ourselves.

In my Blueprint for America's Comeback I call for reducing the tax on job-creating businesses, from 35 percent - second worst in the world -to a better-than-average, competitive 20 percent. That change alone is projected to create more than 500,000 jobs a year - more than 5 million new jobs for Americans in the next 10 years.

By removing the self-imposed barriers to producing energy, we have the potential to provide more affordable fuel and electricity, create hundreds of thousands of good-paying American jobs, improve competitiveness and national security and generate over a trillion in new revenue without raising taxes. And, rather than being vulnerable to hostile outside interests, we would keep our money in the U.S.A.!

We need to stop Washington's assault on Right to Work states like Virginia that include NLRB's unionization poster requirements, the Depression-era Davis-Bacon wage laws and Project Labor Agreement mandates that unnecessarily increase costs to businesses and taxpayers and discriminate against non-union workers.

The America many of us grew up in was fueled by optimism. We looked to the future with a sense of confidence, believing that our ability to achieve the American Dream was limited only by our imagination, ingenuity and hard work.

Today, that seems like a distant memory to many. But it doesn't have to be. All we need in Washington is the right vision, leadership, and accountability.

Former Virginia governor and U.S. Senator George Allen is a Republican candidate for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat in 2012.