“Congress has the power to cost effectively create enough private sector jobs to employ all able Americans.”
If you bristled after reading that last sentence, might I suggest that you are suffering the effects of propaganda? If you bristled once again at being accused of falling prey to propaganda, might I ask you to patiently read the remainder of my blog post? For you see, I am suggesting that America’s economic and political systems are by choice, and that there is no reason that capitalism must co-exist with artificially induced high levels of unemployment. Congress has fed us false choices that seem wrong at the gut level because in fact they are.
Before leaving Washington for 2011 holidays in the warming glow of their family hearths, our United States Congress chose to vote on a few issues. First, the Senate passed an Omnibus spending bill, voting to spend $915 billion dollars on 2012 appropriations, a bill which Representative Gosar called a “Crap Sandwich” because it cut a mere $6 billion from 2011 spending levels.
Anxious for more cuts, Representative Dave Camp proposed H.R. 1209 that would eliminate 40 weeks of federally funded emergency unemployment payments. Watching the blame game of contention being stirred in the halls of Congress, one could surmise that it was only a matter of time before extended unemployment would be proposed for the chopping block. After Congress displayed yet another battle of wills in what has alas increasingly appeared as just a broken legislative process, Congress did not pass H.R. 1209 and instead voted to temporarily extend unemployment benefits for two months to approximately 5.1 million workers and their families.
By temporarily extending $275 a week to our nation’s unemployed, Congress managed to keep about 5 in 6 out-of-work families just above the poverty line for the holidays, allowing 1 in 4 unemployed workers who need their unemployment checks just to keep their homes, to escape the Christmas present of eviction. Nonetheless, holiday cheers were dampened by the U.S. Conference of Mayors report that homelessness increased 6 percent in 2011, requests for emergency food increased 16 percent and 52 percent of food requests went unmet due to dire circumstances in the cities.
Yet cutting federally funded emergency unemployment that extends compensation to 99 weeks will continue to be sought as a deficit reduction measure by some in Congress believing it a reasonable step to save over $100 billion in 2012. One side of the debate supports cuts believing that keeping extended unemployment benefits merely incentivizes the nation to remain unemployed. The other side points to the ratio of 1 job opening for every 4 people seeking jobs as a simple test of the draconian effect of the proposal.
The mere fact that a proposal to cut unemployment payments to 5.1 million Americans was introduced in the House just before the holidays suggests that misplaced battle lines are being drawn. We may not hear the sound of the first shot until after the 2012 elections to save those that would draw blood from the ire of the voting public, but the measure will assuredly resurface afterward if not before. That America would even begin to suggest the appropriateness of discontinuing emergency unemployment payments in the midst of a historical monetary crisis is indicative of a visionless malaise that has overtaken us.
That our nation’s leaders would debate from whose mouths we will pull morsels of bread without having first debated for many days and nights how to put every able person to work to feed their own families is a forewarning of the hollowed out earth below our nation’s capital. In the simplest terms, America’s leaders should not be allowed to stand on the hallowed grounds of our forefathers and contemplate such acts against the citizens that they have sworn to protect before at least attempting to reach common ground on actions as would protect them.
Are we to honestly to expect that Congress is willing to pit workers against the unemployed, home owners against the homeless, healthy against the infirmed, young against the old, and working class against the upper class, rather than bring to bear the brightest minds and the greatest statesmen in a gallant and emergent effort to right our ship of state? Can America not insist that Congress urgently and expeditiously enact and implement legislation that keeps us from choosing to either turn out our citizens or turn out the lights to America’s future?
Do not mistakenly believe that Congress has no power to turn around this nation’s economy. Do not listen to the extreme mantra of those that would have you believe our Federal government, supposedly of the people, has no way to cost effectively put our people to work productively restarting our economy. Do not believe the lie that the only way Congress can improve our nation’s employment is either through bloating government with additional jobs or through burdening our national debt with ineffective stimulus programs. Do not lose hope thinking that therefore America must instead patiently wait until the private sector slowly chooses to rehire millions of idled American workers.
Both parties of Congress have put forth the false choice of either suffering the shrinkage of Government assistance or employing Americans through stimulus programs that temporarily create make work jobs for a few citizens while simultaneously significantly increasing our nation’s debt and forcing our future generations to pay for our needless and ineffective spending binge. But just because neither Republicans nor Democrats have put forth a viable plan to restart our economy does not mean that a viable plan does not exist. It just means that America has not forced Congress to overcome its lack of vision to propose solutions that favor the rest of America while simultaneously protecting their much smaller list of wealthy benefactors.
Most citizens believe that our elected officials will not make such honorable sacrifices and thus Congress suffers a 9 percent approval rating as its posterity. Yet instead of continuing to resist relearning the hard lessons of compromise and instead hoping for a 2012 voter miracle that sweeps either party into power, Congress should instead choose to clear itself from being the greatest obstacle to America’s turnaround. Perhaps it will only do so if America insists.
Our country suffers from a worldwide monetary implosion that has left small businesses and consumers awash in debt with damaged credit and little access to capital as the result of a housing meltdown. Without simultaneously dealing with housing debt overhang, poor credit, access to capital and jobs, any attempt to restart America’s engine of growth will stall. But Congress can stipulate legislation to mitigate and correct each of these short comings simultaneously if they can find a collective inner strength.
It is becoming increasing clear that Congress’s inner strength must come from the rest of America. So take up the banner and make your voices heard that Congress has another choice. America does not have to turn its back on its own. We can instead put our backs into putting all Americans back to work.
A few solution posts at http://www.jobvoucherplan.com: