Weekly Columns

Economy: Rise in Unemployment & Debt is Concerning

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Washington, June 6, 2012 | comments

Last week’s jobs report showed a concerning rise in unemployment to 8.2 percent in the month of May.  There are many factors interfering with our nation’s recovery.  I believe high unemployment and our inability to see a true recovery is directly related to uncertainty due to bad policies such as the health care law and Congress’ inability to gets our country’s fiscal house in order.

I participated in a “Pen and Pad” event on Tuesday with fellow Representatives Price (GA-06) and Lankford (OK-05) regarding 40 consecutive months of unemployment at or above 8 percent.  This has been one of the weakest recoveries on record.  High unemployment figures are another reminder that Congress needs to focus on creating an atmosphere where businesses can thrive.

That means removing unnecessary regulations agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have implemented. The government needs to start living within its means and pass a budget – an actual blueprint to get our fiscal house in order.  The House has passed a budget; however, the Senate has not passed a budget in over three years.

The May jobs report also revealed a significant number of Americans have left the workforce altogether.  Congress needs to pass legislation that incentivizes businesses to hire, invest and grow, while providing individuals incentives to work.  Today, only 63.8 percent of America’s working population has full-time employment, a sharp decrease since President Obama took office in January 2009.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday presented a grim picture of the country's fiscal future, which will be determined in part by tough choices lawmakers face in the coming months on the federal budget. The report estimated that absent new policies, federal debt – already at its highest point ever – will double in the next 15 years.

The CBO also describes how entitlement spending – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – would continue to increase because of the aging population and the rising cost of health care. Specifically, they estimate that spending on the major health care programs would nearly double to 10% of GDP in 2037 from more than 5% today. By 2037, entitlement programs would account for 16% of GDP – nearly as high as the historical average for all federal spending minus interest costs.

If these figures come to fruition, it will be hard to avoid another recession – and it may look worse than any recession we’ve seen.  That is why there is no delaying what needs to be addressed – Congress must move forward with reforms that put this country on a path to ensure long-term economic success.  This includes reforming Medicare and Medicaid so that the programs are secure for current seniors, future seniors and for younger families and future generations.

We must do all we can to address unemployment and get folks back to work. Policies from Washington are making it difficult for small businesses to grow. Massive government expansion into health care, banking and a wide variety of other areas has become a major hurdle to job creation — and small businesses are being hit the hardest. Our economy works best when we reduce regulations, lower taxes and allow hardworking taxpayers to keep more of what they earn. 


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