Last Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its April jobs report indicating that national unemployment remains stuck over eight percent.
Going on four years into the Obama administration, the jobless rate remains high due to business uncertainty over the economy: an uncertainty that could be allayed by a strong White House pro jobs message that, so far, has failed to materialize.
Jobs should not be a partisan issue nor should joblessness be used as a tool to advance political objectives. The president has largely had his way with a Democrat Congress rubber stamping much of his big government agenda in 2009 and 2010 and a Democrat Senate defending his policies in 2011 and 2012. Despite his claims that he has been blocked by the Republican House, President Obama has had plenty of opportunity to make his case and his policies have failed to dramatically turn our economy around.
Weeks after President Obama took office he pledged that his historic program of mammoth government borrowing and spending would break the grip of high unemployment that strangles too many families. He embarked on a path of unsustainable overspending that bloated our national debt by a third in only three years while failing to meet his administration's projection of less than eight percent unemployment.
In its defense, the Obama administration points to 4.1 million jobs created since 2009 and 3.8 percent job growth since the highest point of unemployment in February 2010. According to the White House, these gains would not have been possible had it not been for the president's $1 trillion stimulus. One has to ask, just how many more jobs might have been created in the absence of this historic debt burden, federal overregulation and the ever-looming threat of massive tax increases on hard working Americans?
President Reagan inherited a severe recession in 1981 that similarly tested Washington's ability to jump start the economy. How did Mr. Reagan respond? He cut taxes and freed business from excessive government. During the Reagan years, private sector payrolls surged 10 percent and over seven million new jobs were added. In today's metrics, the Reagan job gain of ten percent would actually equal more than ten million jobs.
Even as President Obama continues to push questionable government spending as the cure for an anemic job market, the House of Representatives has prescribed a robust treatment targeted to stimulate the country's principal employers, small businesses. On April 19, the House passed the Small Business Tax Cut Act -- the latest in more than two dozen bills also passed by the House since January 2011 to spur job growth.
Small businesses are the heart and soul of America's economy -- they are everywhere and form the backbone of our local communities. Collectively, they represent 99.9 percent of the country's 28 million businesses and employ half of all private sector employees. Small businesses with less than 500 workers created 65 percent of all new jobs in America during the last 17 years.
Not surprisingly, when the nation's small business owners are concerned about the possibility of higher taxes and rising costs of government red tape, they don't hire. That's exactly what's been happening for the last four years. President Obama's repeated attempts to raise taxes on Americans earning more than $200,000 a year are a direct assault on small business owners who already face a tax rate of up to 35 percent. Small businesses also spend up to three times more per employee on tax compliance than larger businesses.
The Republican House's latest effort to restore small business confidence is the passage of a 20 percent tax cut for businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The Small Business Tax Cut Act, which I supported, allows employers of less than 500 workers to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their active business income. The deduction would be limited to 50 percent of a qualified business' total W-2 wages. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the House-passed tax cut would reduce taxes on small business by nearly $46 billion over ten years.
Sadly, the administration and its backers in the Senate have stonewalled the dozens of pro small business bills passed by the House over the last 16 months -- while calling us a "do-nothing Congress" -- and it's very likely the Small Business Tax Cut Act will meet the same fate. For them, it's all about scoring political victories rather than freeing the hands of local business owners to hire more workers.
The American people deserve better than delays and gamesmanship. It's a shame that the president and the Senate are not listening.