A new unemployment report released this week has made it clear that a real recovery has not yet taken root and our country is still gripped by serious economic challenges. New jobless claims filed last week rose by 25,000 to 471,000, the largest jump in three months. National unemployment rose from 9.7 percent in March to 9.9 percent in April.
Despite this bad employment news, Congress has failed to enact common-sense policies that remove the barriers and uncertainty that are slowing job creation. Instead, the Democrat leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has loaded the voting calendar with measures to congratulate college sports teams, golf stars and name more post offices this week. The numbers prove that both the failed stimulus passed last year and the other “jobs” bills that have managed to gain congressional approval in recent months have done little to put Americans back to work and our economy back on the path toward recovery. These measures have only added to an already soaring national deficit and the pain, concern and uncertainty of American families. These wayward and costly attempts to solve the economic downturn have called for more spending, borrowing and taxing. Those approaches have clearly failed, and even more troubling is that the Democrat leadership running the agenda and voting schedule of the U.S. Congress doesn’t seem to have a plan B.
Rather than seek a more effective strategy for improving the economy, the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has lost all focus on common-sense job creation. This has caused great frustration for millions of Americans across the country. Congress is letting the American people down during the most difficult economic times this nation has faced since the Great Depression.
I believe that Congress needs to shift its focus to job creation by approving fast-acting tax relief for American families and small businesses. But, rather than working for true-tested solutions, the Democrat leadership in Congress continues to pursue passage of harmful legislation that does nothing but add to the environment of uncertainty keeping small businesses – the nation’s foundation of job creation – from hiring new employees. The cap-and-trade energy legislation approved by the House and awaiting action in the Senate would raise utility costs and force jobs out of coal-dependent Midwestern states like Iowa. Instead of threatening families and businesses with higher costs and taxes, Congress should be creating an atmosphere of certainty that allows business owners to take on new workers with confidence in the economy.
A responsible and sound federal budget would also foster a greater sense of stability. Unfortunately, Congress has fallen behind on putting together a budget resolution for the next fiscal year. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the House will even consider a budget because representatives in the majority don’t want to vote for legislation that would undoubtedly add to the deficit and increase spending levels. Creating, debating and approving a federal budget is one of the most important responsibilities vested in Congress by the Constitution, but political pressure and fear of taking unpopular votes is causing leaders in Congress to think about passing the buck. The American people see that at a time when Congress needs to step up and act responsibly they are avoiding the task at hand because they lack the integrity to do the right thing and do the job they were elected to do.
Until Congress gets its priorities straight, the gap between the people and our federal policymakers will continue to widen. Putting off action on the most important issues will only hurt our country down the road. Enacting an agenda that will lead to real job growth and a fiscally responsible budget will require everyone in Congress to make tough decisions, but that’s exactly what is expected of elected leaders in this country during difficult times.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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