Congressman Mike Conaway received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Free Enterprise award from the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce during a visit to the city this week.

    Laura Terhune, CEO of the Brownwood Chamber, said the award is presented by the U.S. Chamber, with which the local organization is affiliated, to elected officials whose voting records are mostly consistent with policies advanced by the national organization.

    “The award is presented to those members of Congress whose votes are considered by the chamber to be ‘business friendly,’” Terhune said at the ceremony. “They do this by tracking every single vote on matters that affect business.”

    Local chamber staff and members of the Chamber Ambassadors attended the presentation at the studios of KOXE on Monday.

    “Having worked as a CPA, I understand how increased regulations and higher taxes can have a negative impact on business,” Conaway said. “Those dollars used to comply with regulations or pay higher taxes cannot be used to invest in equipment or hire more employees.”

    Conaway recalled that in 1996, when the nation enjoyed a surplus and the nation was more affluent, the Senate came within two votes of approving a balanced budget amendment.

    “Imagine what America would be like if that that had passed,” Conaway said. “We would not have $8.5 trillion in new deficits or a $2 trillion tax increase. I don’t think there’s anything more important than balancing the budget. Let’s pass it now. Twelve years from now, we can say how much better America is.”

    Conaway said putting Americans back to work is important, but that confidence must be restored among citizens for that to happen.

    “No federal program is going to instill confidence,” Conaway said. “You’re going to hear lots of conversation about jobs. But we have to return confidence in the economy among small business people. That’s where the wealth-creating jobs are, jobs that also create other jobs. Technically, we’re out of the recession, but it doesn’t feel like it.

    “If federal spending created a vibrant economy, we would have the most vibrant economy ever.”