President Shifts Focus to Jobs in State of the Union
Feb 4, 2010 -
by Congressman Michael Turner
Last week, the president appeared before Congress and the nation to deliver his first State of the Union address. During his speech, he presented his legislative agenda and national priorities to the American people. The president was correct in making job creation the central focus of his speech. It is absolutely the right focus, and one that most Americans will certainly appreciate. Unfortunately, the president’s strategy for creating jobs and growing our economy by expanding government spending and continuing to flaunt the federal stimulus is the wrong approach. None of the programs outlined thus far will result in the kind of aggressive economic growth the country needs.
During his address to the nation, the president promoted his economic stimulus plan as a way to promote job creation and help jump start the economy. Nearly one year into the stimulus, unemployment across the country and throughout many parts of our region exceeds 10 percent. The astonishing high rate of job loss leaves many families and business owners across southwest Ohio asking “Where are the Jobs?”
Recovery from the economic downturn and job creation are two of the issues foremost on the minds of many Ohioans. I opposed the $800 billion stimulus package because I believed the bill would do little to help those Americans who have suffered the most due to job loss and the economic decline. The legislation, which passed Congress one year ago, promised to deliver “shovel-ready” jobs to millions of Americans. However, the reality is that this wasteful federal spending has had little positive impact upon the job market as the unemployment figures across the nation and southwest Ohio show. While the White House takes credit for creating jobs, the fact is our nation’s economy has shed nearly three million jobs. The jobless rate has climbed steadily since the stimulus was signed into law.
Since taking office one year ago, the president has drastically increased federal spending as part of his plan to shore up our economy. These spending bills, including the economic stimulus package, have led to an 84 percent increase in non-defense discretionary spending over a two year period. The spending freeze the president proposed in his State of the Union address will affect only 13 percent of the federal budget and does not go into effect until next year. Furthermore, the president’s proposed freeze actually maintains the huge spending increases implemented by this Administration over the last year.
I appreciate the president’s comments regarding much needed tax relief for small businesses to help create jobs. Although he has yet to provide specific details, I agree that it is a critically important discussion to have. I hope that the president will also look to ways to support the ability of American businesses to invest in infrastructure and create jobs. This includes addressing important trade issues by aggressively enforcing our existing trade laws, and protecting our markets from unfair trade practices.
Increased government spending in Washington is not the solution to job creation or economic growth and will only add to our nation’s mounting deficits. I encourage the president to work with Members on both sides of the aisle to implement meaningful policies to stimulate the economy and job growth, while practicing fiscal restraint and avoiding excessive government spending.