Sunday, July 4, 2010

Democrats Adjourn, while Unemployed Suffer

The Democrats control the White House and both Houses of Congress. They certainly have the power and, yet they don’t really seem to care about our nation’s most pressing problem, mass unemployment. On this July 4th nearly 15 million Americans are counted as unemployed and another 9 million are too discouraged to look for work or are under-employed. Indeed nearly one million workers dropped out of the workforce over the past two months. Given this crisis, what does the Congress do? It adjourns for the holiday. Meantime an extension of unemployment benefits and Pentagon funding await action.

Where is the concern for job creation as the officially unemployed and new entrants to the labor force wait and wait and wait? Although I have few ideas on the subject (see below), it is not all that clear what Congress can really do. Nevertheless it is hardly helpful to pass and propose new legislation that increases business uncertainty and feeds into the reluctance to hire. It seems that the Obama Administration has a giant checklist, stimulus-passed, healthcare-passed, financial reform-almost passed, cap and trade –in deep trouble, immigration reform-going nowhere. The checklist is the priority meanwhile the plight of the American worker falls by the wayside. If the Administration were serious about the economy creating jobs it would put a time-out on new regulations and cut business and payroll taxes. The deficit hawks would respond, how do you pay for it? Answer: redirect unspent stimulus money and cut out year spending on entitlements. And if Congress really had the nerve it would borrow $500 billion at 4%(current 30 year rate) to fund infrastucture projects with limited, meaning fast track, environmental review and without the prevailing wage provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act.

The Administration would not as it did a week ago hold up a loan guarantee from the Export-Import Bank for coal mining machinery to an Indian utility on global warming grounds. Only because of an outcry from the Wisconsin delegation where the machinery is made and the potential for embarrassment at an Obama event there did the Administration relent. It is chicken-shit stuff like this that drives businesses crazy.

Of course the Republicans are offering no solutions either, but they do not have the burden of being in control. The Democrats have the burden and they are royally blowing it. So much so that they may soon give the Republicans the opportunity to show that they are serious.

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