Issues

Jobs and the Economy

While there is good news about jobs again—227,000 new jobs were added in February, and there have been 23 consecutive months of private jobs growth—we still have a high unemployment rate and Congress has not passed either President Obama’s comprehensive jobs bill or one of their own. We lost 8 million jobs during the Great Recession, and while the 23 months of private jobs growth proves that the Stimulus and other measures, such as the “Auto Bailout,” worked and that we are in recovery, Americans need a comprehensive jobs plan to move the recovery forward at a faster pace. Why can’t Congress get this done?

There was a bipartisan effort on the floor this week, as the House of Representatives passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act. While it is nice to see anything get done in the poisonous climate, this was a minor effort, and many of the provisions actually had passed the House before and were being recycled. This bill also will not help most Main Street businesses. As Ed O’Keefe said in the Washington Post, “The House Bills passed Thursday would make it easier for small businesses to go public by lifting SEC restrictions on running advertisements soliciting new investors and permit ‘crowdfunding’ so that entrepreneurs can raise equity capital from larger pools of small investors.” He goes on to say that it would also let small companies have more shareholders and sell more shares before registering with the SEC. This bill is a help for some, but these issues are not the issues that confront most small businesses on Main Street.

So, this is a little good news, but it is not going to drive down the unemployment rate. How many jobs will come out of this “jobs” bill? I could not find anyone in the majority who would hazard a guess. With all the bragging that normally goes on, though, this is not a good sign. Congressman Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, said to the Republicans during the floor debate, “I thank you for bringing it to the floor, but let us not delude America or deceive ourselves that this is the jobs bill that we need to be passing.”

Are there any other bills that would create jobs? Speaker John Boehner has asked all of the Republican members to carry a card that lists all of their efforts to create jobs. The Representatives should just stick to waving the card and not let anyone actually read it, because voters won’t be happy if they do. For example, one bill on the card is HR 2401, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act, also mentioned by Congressman Guinta as a jobs bill. It is not a jobs bill. Instead, it prohibits the EPA from implementing rules that mandate pollution controls to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants, including those causing smog and acid rain. Implementation of these EPA rules will prevent unnecessary deaths and improve Americans' health, but the Republican legislators are willing to allow corporations to spew more mercury under the pretense of creating jobs.

Also on the card and on Congressman Guinta's jobs list is HR 2587, the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act, also known as the "Jobs Outsourcers Bill of Rights." This bill deprives workers of any remedy if a company closes a plant or lays people off or transfers workers to punish them for engaging in protected union activity. It permits employers to discriminate against workers who try to form a union, forcing them to choose between their job and their rights.

The jobs card is fake. It takes more than placing "jobs" in a bill title to make a jobs bill. Bruce Bartlett, an economist who served in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations, said that the majority’s insistence that cutting regulations will somehow create a lot of jobs is “just nonsense. It’s just made up.” He noted that, “It is a simple case of opportunism, not a serious effort to deal with high unemployment.”

Many Republicans acknowledge they are not creating jobs. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican of West Virginia, said, “I think there’s a huge sense of frustration with everybody, regardless of party. Nothing’s getting done on the most significant issue facing them.”

President Obama presented a comprehensive jobs bill. The House refused to bring it to the floor. Let’s hope they surrender and do the right thing soon.



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