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Jobs For Main Street Act, 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LINDER. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to this legislation, and in particular the provisions adding $40 billion to the deficit, leading to even more tax hikes on jobs, and ultimately increasing unemployment across the Nation. Those provisions are just the latest in a series of massive expansions of Federal unemployment benefits dating back to 2008. And here we are again with yet another extension of Federal unemployment benefits, at enormous expense to taxpayers. But no matter how much Congress spends and no matter how many benefit extensions this body passes, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle can't seem to understand that Americans want paychecks, not unemployment checks. Until they drop their job-killing government health care takeover and energy and other massive tax hikes, jobs and paychecks will continue to be in far too short supply.


Jobs and paychecks are definitely not what Democrats have delivered to date. They insisted their so-called 2009 stimulus bill would create 3.5 million jobs and keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent. Instead we have lost almost 3 million jobs since then as unemployment rose to 10 percent:

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These rates are more than just abstract numbers. They represent real Americans who are no longer receiving a paycheck to provide for themselves and their families--a total of 3.7 million more unemployed than the President promised if his stimulus bill became law. Those 3.7 million people could form an unemployment line stretching literally from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, Illinois. No amount of Federal spending, no White House jobs summit, and not even millions of unemployment checks can distract from that sorry record of job destruction.

The American people are not fooled, either. A current CBS/New York Times poll finds that 61 percent think the $1 trillion 2009 stimulus bill has either had no effect or made the economy worse. Half as many, only 32 percent, think the stimulus bill has made things better.


In an attempt to distract from this grim record, Democrats have taken to blaming the last President for the failure of their own stimulus plan to create jobs. On December 4, 2009, 35 months after she became Speaker and 11 months after Barack Obama became President, House Speaker NANCY PELOSI said ``Bush Administration policies created a huge jobs deficit.'' Yet every one of the ``Bush Administration'' job losses she decried happened on her watch as Speaker. The facts show NANCY PELOSI is the worst Speaker in terms of job creation since official data began in 1939. More than 6 million jobs--4.5 percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy--have been destroyed since she became Speaker in 2007:

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Further, and despite repeated claims from the President and various Administration officials that stimulus ``is working,'' Barack Obama has compiled the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover:

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In response to this horrific record of rising unemployment and job destruction, the Democrat leadership has only one ``solution''--paying even more unemployment benefits. This latest extension comes just one month after the House considered the last expansion of unemployment benefits, which added 20 more weeks of Federal unemployment benefits, increasing total benefits to an unprecedented 99 weeks in most of the U.S.:

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The USA Today last week called this payment of 99 weeks of unemployment benefits ``excessive'' and ``a disincentive to find work.'' They're right. Everyone from Presidential advisor Larry Summers to the New York Times, Washington Post, and Congressional Budget Office agree that's a concern, especially as the job market starts to recover. And we all hope it will start to recover in the coming months.


But regardless of Democrats' current ``jobs'' rhetoric, there is no evidence this bill will deliver jobs and paychecks--just millions more unemployment checks. Those checks will be in addition to the all-time record number of unemployment benefits currently being paid to 9.5 million Americans per week last month. The Federal extended benefits programs are now so enormous--and the 2009 stimulus law was such an utter failure at stemming the tide of job loss and long-term unemployment--that soon more Americans will collect Federal extended benefits than regular State unemployment checks for the first time ever:

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These unemployment checks cost a tremendous amount of money. Since ``emergency'' Federal unemployment benefits began in mid-2008, the Federal government has spent an astonishing $100 billion on these programs. That is 4 times what the Federal government spent on emergency unemployment benefits in the wake of the 2001 recession and terrorist attacks. The tidal wave of recent spending has bankrupted the Federal unemployment accounts and forced Democrats to engage in a massive and growing bailout with general revenues. The legislation before us adds to those massive totals, increasing Federal spending by $7 billion per month, or a total of over $40 billion more during just the next six months. All of which will add to our record deficits and debt.

Tellingly, none of these additional unemployment benefits will be paid for, despite Democrats' recent claims of fiscal responsibility. For example, last week on the House floor, senior Ways and Means Member Sander Levin of Michigan said of a bill that permanently raised taxes to pay for temporary tax relief ``What we are suggesting here is fiscal responsibility. Don't dig the hole deeper and deeper. Step up and pay for it.'' The next day, Speaker PELOSI held a news conference at which she said: ``On jobs, we hope next week that in our final appropriations bill we will be able to have a jobs piece that will create jobs in the near term to address the needs of those who are unemployed and do so in a fiscally sound way.''

Yet here we are again digging that hole deeper, and doing nothing ``in a fiscally sound way.'' None of our Democrat colleagues suggest we ``step up and pay for'' this new spending either. This despite the fact that, even before this measure passes, debt and unemployment have increased by a staggering 55 percent since President Obama took office just 11 months ago:

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No one seriously thinks all this spending--or the job losses--will end with this extension, either. That means at least some of the ``emergency'' spending in today's bill is likely to continue for years ahead. The President's economist, Dr. Christina Romer, anticipated as much this past weekend when she said ``I'm not going to say the recession is over until the unemployment rate is down to normal levels.'' She went on to define ``normal'' as ``where we were before the recession.'' How long might that take? According to a recent study by economists at Rutgers, the U.S. won't return to pre-recession employment levels until 2017. That would mean the current recession, in Dr. Romer's view, would last a decade, or as long as the Depression of the 1930s.


The Federal unemployment accounts are exhausted and most Federal benefits are currently supported by general revenues--the same source of funding for welfare benefits. State unemployment benefits, in contrast, remain supported either by State payroll taxes, or Federal loans--also supported by Federal general revenues and which will also have to be repaid with future State tax hikes.

Those State tax hikes are already under way. On December 8, 2009, the bipartisan National Association of State Workforce Administrators issued a report that 35 States will increase State unemployment payroll taxes in 2010. These are direct taxes on jobs, made worse by the failure of the 2009 stimulus law to create jobs and stem unemployment. The NASWA report notes the 2010 tax hikes range up to a stunning 600 percent. As one small businessman said simply, ``This is a job killer.'' (A list of other recent quotes about how these tax hikes will destroy jobs is included below.)

As the above data shows, Democrat stimulus legislation has succeeded in increasing unemployment, not reducing it. Instead of creating 3.5 million new jobs, the 2009 stimulus bill has been followed by almost 3 million job losses. And now record unemployment benefit payments that followed have become their own engine of job destruction, contributing to an enormous wave of Federal borrowing and State tax hikes that will stifle job growth for years to come.

Adding to the pain, Democrat energy policies would increase the price of energy and kill millions of jobs. Democrat health policies would make health care and health insurance more expensive and kill millions more jobs. And other Democrat spending proposals in this second (or really third or fourth, depending on how one counts) stimulus bill will further drive up the debt and kill even more jobs.

We can and must do better. It's well past time for us to shelve Democrats' job-killing energy, health care, and tax hike agendas. We will then unleash America's job creation engine so laid off workers can finally get back to work. That effort should start with a vote against this legislation, and a renewed commitment to offer unemployed workers real help in finding new work, instead of just more benefit checks.

Appendix: Recent Quotes about How State Unemployment Tax Hikes Will Kill Jobs From Sea to Shining Sea

California: ``Tax may feed unemployment: business owners fear insurance spike,'' March 30, 2009:

``Thanks to the tanking economy and past benefit hikes, the state's system for providing unemployment benefits is insolvent. And the fix that state lawmakers are considering is to dramatically raise the taxes employers pay into the system. The irony: That could force companies to lay off employees. Take, for example, Steve Diels, who owns a Redondo Beach call center. Any tax increase could force him to fill out some pink slips. `Right now, my profit margin has slipped and I'm doing everything I can to avoid laying anyone off,' said Diels, a Redondo Beach city councilman who employs 38 people at Aamcom Inc. `But if they increase the unemployment tax, employers like me will have to lay people off and that will only make things worse with the unemployment fund.' ''

Connecticut: ``State may tax business to bail out broke jobless fund,'' December 5, 2009:

``Tony Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said ..... `It's a tough situation and there's not one single business that can stand a tax increase'.''

Florida: ``Creating more jobs is `Job No. 1','' December 10, 2009

``A good example of policy that discourages hiring is the impending radical increase in the unemployment tax in Florida, triggered by the depletion of the unemployment trust fund by record jobless claims. That increase is so steep--from $8.40 per employee to $100 for the minimum tax; from $378 to $459 for the maximum--that it could not only discourage hiring, it could put some businesses under.''

Hawaii: ``Big payroll tax reset weighs on Hawaii business,'' December 4, 2009:

``Big Island contractor Hinchcliff Drywall Construction will see a more than six-fold increase in its payroll taxes next year, which will soar from the current $18,500 annually to $116,350. ..... `I don't understand why the rates were not raised gradually over the period of two or three years--it almost seems a bit backwards,' said Michelle Danihel-Kreusling, controller of Hinchcliff Drywall, which employs 80 people. `Practically cutting off your nose to spite your face,' she said. `This rate hike will either require many businesses to either drastically reduce their labor force or close shop completely, both of which would increase the unemployment rate.' ''

Maine: ``Maine raises unemployment tax by $54 million,'' December 1, 2009:

``David Clough, Maine director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said his members will be hit hard by the tax hike. He said it will cost jobs, either from layoffs or positions that go unfilled.''

Maryland: ``Rising unemployment taxes could hinder hiring,'' November 22, 2009:

``Employers already are squeezed by tight credit, rising health care costs, wary consumers and a higher minimum wage. Now, the surging jobless rate is imposing another cost. It's forcing higher state taxes on companies to pay for unemployment insurance claims. Some employers say the extra costs make them less likely to hire. ..... Chuck Ferrar, who owns a liquor store in Annapolis, Md., expects to pay $9,000 in unemployment taxes next year, up from $3,000 this year. Health care costs for his employees will rise by $8,000, or 17.5 percent. `When you start adding this up, it turns into real money,' he said. `If I lose an employee through attrition, I will not replace him. You can't afford to do it.''

Massachusetts: ``Unemployment at 33-year high; insurance fund running dry,'' October 16, 2009:

`` `This is a breathtakingly bad picture,' said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded public policy group, and also a member of the advisory council that monitors the solvency of the two accounts that fund unemployment benefits. `They're putting additional taxes on employers, and we are seeing our jobs erode,' Widmer said in an interview. `It's devastating in terms of the state's competitiveness.' ''

Michigan: ``New unemployment-insurance taxes: $63 million in 2010,'' September 13, 2009:

``Frank Lope, an alliance board member and chairman of Romulus-based Aztec Manufacturing Corp., said ..... `It's going to be another impediment on businesses as they go to look at hiring people,' Lopez said. `It's just another, so to speak, of the many nails in the coffin for continued growth of businesses in the state of Michigan.' ''

Nevada: ``Businesses May See Huge Tax Increase,'' September 23, 2009:

``Some financial experts are still concerned that a huge jump in the unemployment benefit tax will force businesses to lay off employees to pay for the increase.''

North Carolina: ``N.C. borrowing billions for jobless,'' December 1, 2009:

``Walden, the economist, said raising taxes would be a mistake as long as the economy is hurting. `In essence, you can look at that as a tax on new employees, and we don't want to do that,' he said. The deep recession has made it impossible for North Carolina to forecast how much unemployment tax funds the state will receive from employers next year, Clegg said. `Not to be maudlin, but I don't know who will be paying taxes in the first quarter of 2010 because I don't know what businesses will survive,' he said.''

Rhode Island: ``R.I. businesses to pay higher jobless taxes,'' November 23, 2009:

``Mark Higgins, dean of the University of Rhode Island's College of Business Administration, said the tax hike was inevitable ..... Depending on the circumstances, the tax increase is one factor that could discourage a business from hiring next year, Higgins said. Higher unemployment tax `just increases the cost of hiring somebody,' he said. `It increases the cost of payroll ..... [and] of keeping [an employee] on the payroll,' he said.''


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