U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding Congress' ongoing debate about unemployment and other federal benefits.
"The best unemployment benefit is a job. An economy with as much debt as ours simply can't create jobs at the rate we need them. Congress could easily pay for this extension by reducing wasteful spending by $9 billion, which is a rounding error in our $3.5 trillion budget," Dr. Coburn said.
Dr. Coburn noted a recent study by economists Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard which found that when public debt reaches 90 percent of GDP -- as it has in the United States -- economic growth slows significantly.
"Everyone in Congress wants to help unemployed Americans. This is a debate between members of Congress who are addicted to borrowing and spending and those who have realized the time to make hard choices is now," Dr. Coburn said.
"Unfortunately, it is difficult for Congress to make hard choices when this year may be the first time in 36 years the House of Representatives fails to pass a budget. When American families face tough times they budget and take a hard look at their spending. When Congress faces tough times, members go on vacation, attend fundraisers and blame others for failing to the work of prioritizing they were elected to do. The American people deserve better," Dr. Coburn said.
"Finally, many who want borrow money to pay for these benefits argue that eliminating wasteful spending will somehow reduce the stimulative effect of unemployment benefits. This assume every dollar government spends has a positive effect. In the real world, not all federal programs are created equally and not all dollars are spent equally. No American with any common sense would say building a Bridge to Nowhere was as valuable as building a bridge to somewhere. Extending unemployment benefits and paying for them by reducing spending is the right thing for the unemployed and future generations of Americans," Dr. Coburn said.