October 22, 2014

OPINION: Congress, American people could use a little tough love

Danedri Thompson

dthompson@gardnernews.com

Although their reasoning is flawed, Congressional Republicans were wise to give the Heisman arm to another round of unemployment benefits.

Unfortunately, they’ll be eating the Democrats’ dust by the time this paper reaches your hands.  New Sen. Carte Goodwin will be sworn in to replace Sen. Robert Byrd – giving Democrats enough votes to extend unemployment benefits yet again – now up to 73 weeks and counting – to the tune of $33 billion.

Republicans argued that the benefits shouldn’t be extended without having a way to pay for them. Sadly, their solution is to use money still unspent from the $1 trillion stimulus feeding trough.

Um, we didn’t have the money to fund stimulus, Congress’ newest slush fund, in the first place. Not spending money you don’t have on one thing and then spending it on another isn’t exactly a budget plan. (It’s tragic the American people are continually having to explain this to the members of Congress – but there it is.)

A simple examination of spending since 1965 reveals that no matter the party in power, federal spending is on the up and up. Republicans who blame the Dems shouldn’t be let off the hook. They’re just as guilty. And Dems, when your excuse for excessive spending is, “Well, they did it too,” you sound like third graders. Grow up.

The job market is tough right now. More than 6.8 million have been unemployed long term, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another 8.6 million are underemployed, and 1.2 million have simply quit searching for work.

Given the scenario, it’s understandable  that members of Congress want to offer a hand to the unemployed. However, by continually extending unemployment benefits, they’re simply creating a class of people who are virtually enslaved by the federal government.

Everyone knows someone looking for work right now – or too discouraged to even try after months of job searching. But hoping Uncle Sam will provide another paycheck extension is only prolonging the inevitable.

I don’t like to be the one saying this, and I hope I’m wrong. But I have a sinking feeling that we won’t hit the bottom of this economic trough until the government stops propping segments of the economy up artificially.

Look at what’s happened to home sales in the last few months. They’ve dropped off a cliff. The real estate market wasn’t going gang busters, but there was a trickle of home buying interest. And then the government stepped in offering home buying tax incentives of up to $8,000. The housing market didn’t exactly take off, but those who may have been considering a purchase within the next year or two moved up their timelines to cash in on the great government giveaway.

Now the home buying tax incentive well is dry – though buyers have until the end of September to close on houses already under contract. And home buying is at record lows. Without Congressional intervention, the market would likely have continued to limp along slowly. Instead, it’s come to a dead halt, and who knows how long that will last.

It’s a shell game Congress is continuing to play with the American people. A little tough love would be good for Congress and the American people.

An inherent fear of record deficits and out-of-control spending is also slowing the job market. The deficit can not be allowed to grow exponentially at its current rate forever without dramatic tax increases that will cut into a company’s ability to add staff. You can’t pay employees if you can’t afford your tax bill.

And what business wants to add employees right now when the costs of recent legislation are yet to be understood?

Necessity is the mother of all invention. Given the opportunity and, let’s face it, the fear and necessity – Americans will rise to the occasion and create jobs. But not if Congress continues to stand in the way.

Comments

  1. And I say nothing will be accomplished until strong moral values such as honesty, integrity, ethics, character are fully restored at all levels of our society.

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