Government polices hurting jobs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 13, 2010

As a congressman, former Vice-President Dick Cheney often used the very telling phrase “It’s the spending, stupid” to illuminate the source of America’s economic woes. Today’s Democratic-controlled Congress does not share this philosophical view and has used the economic downturn as an excuse to boost spending for their domestic programs.

The White House’s fiscal year 2011 budget spends $3.8 trillion, retains a $1.5 trillion deficit and increases taxes $1.8 trillion by 2020. To boot, since January of 2009, the Democratic leadership has enacted 14 tax increases totaling $670 billion.

Non-defense discretionary spending has increased 84 percent since President Obama took the oath of office while unemployment has hovered around 10 percent.

All of this to say the federal government is broke. Yet for the first time in more than 35 years, the Pelosi-led House will fail to produce a budget. The failure of the Democratic leadership to responsibly construct a budget resolution threatens job creation, explodes spending and deficits, and intensifies America’s debt crisis.

The Department of the Treasury projects that our national debt will reach $13.6 trillion this year. This frightening figure means that public debt will be 93.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Even more alarming, by 2015 the national debt is estimated to top $19.6 trillion.

Some economists believe that debt levels above 90 percent of GDP reduce economic growth by 1 percent and a 1 percent increase in GDP equals 979,000 jobs. We cannot spend our way out of a recession, and long term, more debt will be a job killer.

Wednesday, the President’s Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke discussed jobs with the House Budget Committee saying that, “Payroll employment rose by 431,000 in May, but that figure importantly reflected an increase of 411,000 in hiring for the decennial census.” Setting the Census aside, the economy produced virtually no jobs in May. To be exact, the private sector only created 41,000 new hires last month. Chairman Bernanke also made note of the need to restore the 8.5 million jobs that were lost in 2008 and 2009.The economy will need to produce 250,000 jobs a month for five years to make up that job deficit.

Although the President and the Democratic-led Congress continue to spend nearly $4.8 billion per day, we have not seen many optimistic shifts in unemployment. Now, in an effort to shrink their spending spree, the White House on Monday asked federal agencies to reduce their budget requests for the next fiscal year by 5 percent. In fact, we should cut more than 5 percent. Last year, my congressional office voluntarily spent approximately 10 percent less than we were authorized.

I welcome the President’s call for fiscal responsibility. But considering his administration’s record of spending, debt and deficits, I fear his search for savings will result in more rhetoric than results. Perhaps it would make more sense for the White House to encourage Congress to produce a budget for this year than to focus their efforts on incentives for executive agencies that trim their overhead.

I support a conservative jobs plan that: eliminates job-killing federal tax increases; freezes domestic discretionary spending at fiscal year 2008 levels; removes unnecessary barriers to domestic energy production; and offers assistance to small businesses and community banks struggling with the downturn in the commercial real estate market.

My faith is in the American entrepreneur and our small businesses — not the federal government — to create jobs. The Democratic leadership should give the taxpayers what they deserve: A fiscally responsible budget that spends less, cuts taxes and reduces our national debt.

Rep. Gregg Harper is a Republican representing the third district of Mississippi, which includes Adams County. For more information, visit www.harper.house.gov.