This week I was pleased to attend the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting and Business Summit, and speak to some of our state's business leaders about how we can work together on commonsense solutions to rebuild America. West Virginia's businesses are critical to job creation and economic growth, and it's so important that government work as a partner, not an adversary, in creating a climate that allows our businesses and entrepreneurship to thrive.
I know that our leaders in business are hearing and feeling the same things I heard during my travels to more than 20 counties in West Virginia this August. I met with residents in coffee shops, courthouses, and at town hall meetings, and at every stop I heard the same things. Consumers are worried about jobs and the economy, and they are not spending. Small business owners are worried about getting loans, and so they are not expanding. Large corporations are worried about future regulations and growth, so they're not making investments that will produce good American jobs.
Amid all of these problems, West Virginia's business leaders and residents all over our great state are observing a political process in Washington that is dysfunctional, partisan, and detrimental to our nation's precarious economic situation.
Now more than ever, it is time for elected leaders to do what we were sent to Washington to do. It's time to rebuild America. It's time for Washington to focus on job creation, cutting regulations, achieving energy independence, and getting our debts and deficits under control. It's time to stop with the politics and partisanship, and to do what is right for the next generation.
I believe there are smart steps we can take do this, like the Jobs Score legislation I have proposed, which would allow us to know how many jobs are being created or lost every time we pass a new major law. Just like we did in West Virginia, we need to be laser-focused on job creation.
Yet just as critical to our ability to create jobs will is ending overregulation. Federal regulations have exploded, and they are paralyzing private investment and job creation. I believe we must find the right balance between regulations that protect our families and our environment and job creation. I have proposed a number of bills like the EPA Fair Play Act and the Reins Act -- to cut regulations so businesses large and small can help rebuild America by investing in America, and it is my hope that we will be able to move forward on some of this legislation as we get back to work in Washington.
If we want to grow our economy, compete globally and create American jobs, we must also become energy independent within a generation. West Virginia can be a leader in helping the nation achieve this critical goal. We need to utilize all of our resources coal, natural gas like the Marcellus Shale, wind, solar, hydro, biomass, nuclear, geothermal everything to come up with a national energy policy that frees this nation from the constraints of foreign oil.
For the sake of this nation and our economy, these are the things we must achieve: job creation, smart regulations, and energy independence. But this nation also faces a death spiral of debt that we must get under control. While there is a lot of blame to go around when it comes to how we got here, blaming others won't solve this problem. We need to fix it.
Our debt is $14.3 trillion. At the current pace of deficit spending, it is projected our national debt will exceed $23.1 trillion by 2021. In July, we took a step toward achieving fiscal responsibility by agreeing to a bipartisan debt ceiling deal that cut spending and provided a pathway to a long-term fix. But we have a long way to go.
As we return to Washington this September, Democrats and Republicans have an opportunity to work together and do what is right for our nation's future.
I hope that my colleagues went home and heard just what I did on my travels throughout the state. West Virginians want us to focus not only on rebuilding America, but on rebuilding confidence in America. They want and they deserve a government that is as good as they are.
We are all Americans. We have proven that we can overcome any challenge, any obstacle, when we work together. I hope as lawmakers return to Washington, Republicans and Democrats will tackle our great challenges head-on.
It is time, now more than ever, to start rebuilding America.