The March jobs report came in well below expectations and the top House Republican responsible for poring over the numbers each month says this is all to be expected thanks to the encroachment of Obamacare and the Obama administration's relentless push for new taxes.
On Friday, the Labor Department reported the overall unemployment rate dropped from 7.7 percent to 7.6 percent. However, just 88,000 jobs were added in March, well short of the 190,000 expected by economic experts. The drop in the jobless rate is a result of 663,000 people leaving the labor force last month.
Most political chatter on the left suggests reductions in government spending through sequestration are to blame. Many on the right say the tax increases passed through January's fiscal cliff legislation is choking our growth, the top House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee in Congress says the explanation is the same as it's been four more than four years.
"I'd have to say we're in a lousy economic recovery," said Texas Rep. Kevin Brady. "You're always rooting for good jobs numbers but this was not one of them. In fact, the jobs that were created were so small it's actually dismaying. Plus, with more than a half a million people who have simply given up looking for jobs and they just don't think there's one out there, that's a huge red flag.
"We're at the lowest level in 34 years. We're actually at Jimmy Carter-era workforce rates which is a bad sign for the economic recovery of the country," said Brady.
Several factors are grinding job growth and the overall economy to a halt, and Brady says none of the reasons are all that new.
"It's what's been holding the recovery back for three-and-a-half years. It is the talk of higher taxes. It is the president's new health care laws. You've got a lot of businesses very reluctant to add new jobs, in fact many of them are cutting hours in anticipation of it. Of course, all the new regulation coming out of Washington. That's got a real dampening effect on the economy," said Brady. " So the question is, "Do we stay this same course and continue the worst economic recovery in modern times or do we change course and give businesses the certainty to start hiring again.' For the millions of people who have no breadwinner in their family or who have just given up looking for work, I think the answer's obvious. We need to change course."
Brady elaborated on what he sees as the negative impacts of the Obama health care law and his push for additional tax increases. He says outside of repeal, a substantial delay in the implementation of Obamacare would be a good step. Brady admits that it would be tough to find the votes to do that but he says the economic impact would be significant.
"It will be hard but it will be wise to do it. One, because they're not ready to put this massive new law in place. They're missing, literally, every deadline they've set for themselves. Because of that, businesses and patients are more uncertain about the future and what to do," said Brady.
"For example, I toured a wood palette plant in Conroe, Texas, a month or so ago. The increased costs from the president's new law, to them, is the same as opening two new plants and hiring 100 new workers. That much extra cost is what they're going to have to incur just to keep the plants they have," said Brady, who estimates that between seven and 65 million workers will find themselves dropped from their employer-based health plans and forced to go on the exchanges.
The Obama budget is yet to be completed but on Friday reports indicate that the president will call for reduced spending on Medicare and Social Security, but he wants hundreds of billions more in new taxes as well. Brady says that's not going to solve anything.
"Why doesn't the president believe saving Social Security for the sake of saving social security? Isn't that enough? And why is he pursuing higher taxes, not to make Social Security better and not to make the economy better, but just to pay for added spending in other areas? It seems to me he's holding seniors hostage to be able to spend more in other places. That's the wrong approach," said Brady.
So what are the Republican plans for revitalizing our economy?
"We're going to push for pro-growth tax reform because we think the tax code is so complex today, it's really a drag on the economy. We believe if you show the rest of the world we're serious about getting our financial house in order, especially dealing with Social Security and Medicare that would avoid another downgrade in the credit rating. That would be hugely helpful. And finally, calling a timeout on the talk of higher taxes, on new regulations and even a significant delay in the president's health care law," said Brady.