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Weekly Column: Making History

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Every month, the U.S. Department of Labor releases a jobs report, which serves as a metric for the state of our economy. These reports are prefaced by projections from economists who estimate, based on the current state of the economy, how many jobs will be created or lost that month. In May, these economists predicted the addition of 150,000 jobs nationwide. The report released last week was unfortunately far short of that: only 69,000 jobs created, with the national unemployment rate increasing to 8.2 percent.

For many folks, the numbers are worse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among African Americans is 13.6 percent, and 11 percent among the Hispanic or Latino community. For post-9/11 veterans, that number is 12.7. The country's underemployment rate -- those working part-time looking for full-time jobs, for example -- is nearly 15 percent.

This issue goes far beyond the partisan blame game and finger-pointing -- it's about the fiscal health of a country we will one day pass on to younger generations. While we're often reminded of our rich history, we often forget we're creating our own history every day.

I think of this often this time of year, as so many families and school groups come to Washington eager to learn more about the history of our great country. Yet I'm afraid there's not much evidence that what we're doing today -- the direction federal policies are taking us -- will one day be worth celebrating in these halls and in museums.

We're all proud of the legacies left by Americans like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. What will future generations think if we continue to neglect our crippling debt and unsustainable spending?

We've seen overseas what can happen when unaccountable spending catches up to proud nations. Imagine our children inheriting a country in which Medicare and Social Security programs are insolvent; in which debt exceeds all economic growth; which cripplingly depends upon countries like China to borrow money. That should not and cannot happen to the United States. We must work together in Washington to pare down our debt, to free private businesses from burdensome regulations and to provide the tax certainty they need to grow, expand and hire those who need the jobs we are sorely missing.

The men and women of our great country's past now enshrined as statues produced breathtaking achievements in the face of great difficulty. We honor them because they did what was right, not always what was easy or popular. Washington must have the courage to make the tough but ultimately right decisions.


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