By Representative Scott Desjarlais
On Monday, Sept. 3, our nation will observe Labor Day. This federal holiday provides Americans with an opportunity to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers all across our country. Unfortunately, 23 million of our fellow citizens remain unemployed and will have little to celebrate during the long weekend.
We have experienced more than 40 months of unemployment at or above 8 percent, despite a massive taxpayer-funded stimulus package and three years of trillion dollar deficits. The only thing that we truly have to show for this government spending spree is a national debt that just surpassed $16 trillion.
Americans rightly want to know where the jobs are that President Obama promised us when he was making the case for all this spending. But the president has no answer for them. Even worse, he has no more ideas for them.
As a result, he has turned his focus from creating jobs to dividing Americans. He has engaged in class warfare demonizing those whom he deems "wealthy." It is as though the president believes that achieving success in this country is something we should frown upon.
The truly unfortunate part is that we know what the solutions are to restoring our economy and getting Americans back to work. But we know those solutions are not easy ones and will require short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. It seems, though, that tough decisions and sacrifice don't have a place in this president's sole focus on winning the next election.
Instead, the president continues down a path of spending money we don't have, regulating businesses to the point of bankruptcy and growing the size of an already too intrusive government. Does he really expect to get different results with the same old strategies?
At times, I wonder whether the president just doesn't understand how the economy works or if he is just too beholden to his liberal allies to support measures that would help the economy but don't coincide with far-left ideologies.
A great example of the latter is the Keystone XL pipeline.
Earlier this year, the president blocked the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. This pipeline would bring oil to the United States from neighboring Canada and create thousands of jobs while reducing our dependency on oil from unstable Middle Eastern countries. The president's puzzling rejection of the pipeline led The Washington Post editorial board to say, "We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question [on approving the pipeline]." Now, the Canadians are looking to export this oil to China.
Although I may be new to Congress, I know that Washington works best when we can work together. I have always believed that when both parties put their best ideas forward and then engage in a healthy debate on those ideas, the result is sound legislation. Although no party gets 100 percent of what they want, the American people come out on top.
But that can't happen if one side won't even participate in the process. I've been proud to be part of an aggressive legislative strategy by House Republicans aimed at getting Americans back to work. To date, we have passed more than 30 jobs bills in the United States House of Representatives and sent them over to the Senate. The Senate can take these bills and make whatever changes they want, and then we can conference to sort out our disagreements and produce bipartisan legislation. That is how Congress is supposed to work.
Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refuses to even allow these jobs bills to be brought up for a vote on the Senate floor. That means we can't even start the process. This legislation is languishing in the Senate because the majority leader doesn't want Democratic senators up for re-election to take difficult votes. He is putting the future of 20 senators before 23 million Americans. Regardless of party affiliation, I think we can all agree that is just plain wrong.
The truth of the matter is that we are running out of time to fix these problems. If we act now, we can put our nation on the course to a more prosperous future. If we wait, the sacrifices will only be more painful and the chance of recovery less likely. Fortunately, we have the map out of the mess we are in; the question is, will we have the courage to follow it?