Have you ever seen something move so slowly that you begin to wonder if it is moving at all? It's a feeling you might get watching our economic recovery. Today, the Labor Department announced that we picked up 96,000 jobs in August, yet unemployment remained above 8 percent for the 43rd month in a row. Although unemployment dipped slightly to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, the report also revealed that almost 370,000 people gave up looking for work during this slowest economic recovery since World War II.
For months, the Senate has ignored dozens of House-passed jobs bills. The other chamber also refuses to act on our legislation to stop the looming tax hikes on January 1st, give certainty to small businesses, and safeguard an estimated 700,000 jobs.
Unfortunately, the prospects for legislative action in the weeks ahead don't look bright. With the party conventions over, Congress will return to Washington next week for legislative business, but Senate leaders aren't expected to bring up any major bills until after the election. As a result, pressing questions on items like the January 1st tax hikes may have to wait until late November or December.
High on that to-do list ought to be dealing with the debt, which this week hit a staggering $16 trillion. Not long ago, a debt of this magnitude would have been unthinkable. But over the last three and a half years, the debt spiked faster than ever before -- up from $10.6 trillion in January 2009. Once again, the House has passed a budget to curb spending, but the Senate has now gone three years without passing any budget at all.
One issue that will be addressed before the November elections is the continuing resolution that will fund the federal government through next year. Right now, it appears that House and Senate leaders are on track to pass a six-month extension, which could be voted on in the next few weeks.