Despite a record amount of federal spending, the national unemployment rate climbed to 9.1 percent in May. The unemployment rate has now hovered at or above 9 percent for the past 23 months, topping 8 percent for the last 28 months.
In Ventura County, the unemployment rate fell from 9.7 percent in April to 9.5 percent in May, which is encouraging but offers little consolation when considering Ventura County's jobless rate has hovered around 10 percent since June 2009.
Congress and the president need to focus on a jobs program that will supply work for all Americans who want a job, including the estimated 1.7 million students graduating with a bachelor's degree this year. The 54,000 jobs that were added nationally last month will not do it.
The job market is so soft that more than 800,000 potential workers stopped looking for work in May -- meaning they are not included in the official unemployment rate.
In addition, if those looking for work, those discouraged from looking and those who are working part-time but want full-time work are added together, the unemployment/underemployment rate is closer to 20 percent.
To create jobs, the U.S. government must empower employers and entrepreneurs by killing unnecessary regulations and streamlining those that remain, by keeping taxes low and by curtailing federal spending.
Specifically, Congress and the president must empower small business owners and reduce regulatory burdens by:
* Requiring congressional review and approval of any government regulations that have a significant impact on the economy or burden small businesses.
* Auditing existing and pending regulations to identify and address those that hinder economic growth.
The federal government must also fix the tax code to help job creators create more American jobs and spur investment by:
* Streamlining the tax code and lowering the tax rate for businesses and individuals, including small business owners, to no more than 25 percent.
* Reforming the tax code to allow American businesses to bring back their overseas profits without having to pay a tax penalty so they can invest in our economy and create American jobs.
Entrepreneurship and growth can be encouraged by:
* Modernizing our patent system to protect our nation's innovators, discourage frivolous lawsuits and expedite patent reviews.
* Reauthorizing and improving federal programs and approval processes to streamline development of new products. Barriers to building a first-class workforce so that the U.S. can compete in the global marketplace and lead the way in technological development and growth must also be removed.
Congress and the president can and must maximize domestic energy production to ensure an energy policy for the 21st century. Increasing domestic production and encouraging all forms of energy production will lead to lower energy prices and less dependence on the volatile Middle East. It will also create jobs.
The unsustainable federal debt must also be brought under control and the government must start living within its means by enacting significant spending cuts.
Cutting the federal deficit will help create jobs, as noted by more than 150 economists who signed a letter to the president, warning: "An increase in the national debt limit that is not accompanied by significant spending cuts and budget reforms to address our government's spending addiction will harm private-sector job creation in America."
The signatories included Nobel Prize winner Robert Mundell, former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, two former directors of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and economists from such prestigious universities as Stanford and Carnegie-Mellon.
When the president began his bailouts of Wall Street instead of Main Street, and embarked on his $1 trillion stimulus program, I said that -- while I hoped I was wrong -- I believed it would fail to create private-sector jobs for Americans. I was correct.
He used the money to substantially increase the size and cost of government, but his programs failed to create the private-sector jobs that expand our economy and create revenues without raising taxes -- and left the U.S. with $1 trillion more in debt and with substantially more unemployment.
It's not too late to fix it, but Congress and the president must empower employers and entrepreneurs to create jobs by killing unnecessary regulations and streamlining those that remain, by keeping taxes low and by curtailing federal spending now, so Americans can have the jobs they need and deserve.