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Right on Track

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Right on Track
December 8, 2005

The brutal winds of adversity came with force in August when Hurricane Katrina washed ashore, wreaking havoc in its path. Although the devastation left by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma was unprecedented in U.S. history, our economy proved its resilience as the winds that blew across America's Gulf Coast amounted to little more than a breeze through our nation's robust economy.

Remember the job loss reported in September? Revised numbers show that the economy actually added 17,000 new jobs. That's right -- in the wake of America's most horrendous natural disaster ever, payrolls still increased.

Last month we added 215,000 new jobs, marking 30 consecutive months of positive job growth. Hourly earnings increased as well, amounting to a raise of 3.2% over a year earlier. The unemployment rate now stands at five percent, lower than the average of any of the previous three decades.

Consumer confidence is up, too. New home sales experienced the largest one-month percentage gain in over twelve years in October. And if that's not enough, Real Gross Domestic Product has now grown at three percent or better for ten straight quarters -- the best performance in twenty years.

Even the manufacturing sector is experiencing growth. Despite the difficulties this sector has faced in recent years, the Institute for Supply Management, a private research group, has reported that manufacturing output grew for the 30th consecutive month in November.

Specifically in Wisconsin, exports through September were up a remarkable 17.6 % in 2005 over the same period in 2004. Meanwhile, the most recent numbers show Wisconsin's unemployment rate at just 3.8% in October.

How could we experience such an economic boom just four years after the tragedy of 9/11 and in the immediate wake of this year's hurricanes? Quite simply, Congress has been working with President Bush to place more federal money back where it belongs -- in the pockets of taxpayers. With individuals and businesses free to spend and invest more of their own money, America's economy is soaring to new heights.

Amazingly, some would actually undo the progress we have made. Seeking to tear down this economy for their own political gain, some of my Democratic colleagues have chosen to focus on isolated cases of disheartening news. But for every lay-off, for every temporary spike in gas prices, for every pension fund that is tragically and unjustly dissolved, there are literally thousands of new opportunities emerging. Nearly 2 million new jobs in the past twelve months, in fact.

Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed the Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act. I voted in favor of this bill to help ensure that we continue to grow the economy by placing more cash back in the hands of taxpayers. Our economy is right on track, and if it's okay with my Democratic colleagues, I'd like to keep it that way.

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