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Mr. BOOZMAN. Mr. President, given that it is an election year, the American people are going to hear a lot of highly charged political rhetoric over the next few months. They are likely already tired of what they have heard. The Arkansans I talked with during the last week while traveling the State certainly have told me that much.
They do not want to see the finger-pointing. They want us to fix the problems we face. They are tired of the back-and-forth. They are tired of us seeking credit and placing blame. They see an economy in shambles and nobody willing to take responsibility.
To put it bluntly, they are frustrated. I think we all hear that message when we go home. I think we can all agree that more can and needs to be done. The jobs report that came out last Friday certainly reinforces that. When the President pushed through his massive stimulus package in 2009, he claimed unemployment would be below 6 percent today.
With a national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, we are not even close to 6 percent, much less below it. To make matters worse, we are moving further away from the mark. This is the 40th straight month where the unemployment rate has remained above 8 percent, and 12.7 million Americans are unemployed. Millions more are underemployed. The economic picture is especially troubling for young Americans looking to enter the workforce.
America has the lowest employment-to-population ratio for young adults since 1948. Millions of Americans who are looking for work cannot find it. This is unprecedented, it is unacceptable, and it is unsustainable.
The President met the report with a call for another round of stimulus spending. Look, we have tried that. It did not work. More of the same will not work either. More government spending will not solve this problem. Paying for that spending by raising taxes on small businesses, the people we are counting on to turn our economy around, is certainly counterintuitive.
When the people we are counting on to spur the recovery tell us the country is going in the wrong direction, then we should listen. In almost every poll small business owners have responded that the uncertainty coming out of Washington is what is preventing them from hiring. Quite simply, they fear what the next wave of regulations is going to be and the proposed taxes, what that will do to their ability to grow their business.
Small business owners are afraid to invest any capital because they do not know what their taxes will be. They are afraid to hire another employee because they are nervous about what that will do to their health care costs and afraid to expand until they know how big their energy bill is going to be.
Washington has to change course. My colleagues and I have a better path to a healthy economy that restores economic security and opportunity. Our market-based reforms are focused on creating a healthier environment for businesses to hire and to expand. We want to cut through regulations instead of adding more. We want to fix the Tax Code to incentivize hiring instead of passing the tab for more wasteful spending on to small business.
We want to reduce their costs by encouraging the production of domestic sources of energy instead of driving costs up by continuing our reliance on other countries for our needs. Three years of trying to tax and spend our way out of this problem has not worked. The American people are rightfully frustrated.
All we are saying is we tried the President's way and it has not worked. Let's try our market-based approach. But here is where we run into the old election-year problem. Ever since the numbers were released, all the media has been talking about is what the report means in terms of the Presidential election. This, in turn, has Washington digging in deeper to its respective trenches. That angle of the story misses the most important part. This is about more than numbers, more than a report, more than a political talking point. It is real people, all of whom are looking to Washington for help. It is past time we started fighting for them instead of for our political futures.
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