As the stunningly disappointing, December employment numbers begin to make their way through various media outlets, Congress continues to debate an extension of unemployment benefits. Democrats want the aid extended, while Republicans want the cost of any extension paid for. Both parties have spent time bickering over what kind of “spending cuts” (including but not limited to shrinking Medicare payments to providers) would save the billions needed to cover these new expenses.
Here’s an idea. How about the Grand Old Party returns to it’s Reaganesque roots and propose solving the problem by growing the economy and creating high paying jobs? After this latest, dismal Labor Department report could there be a better time to promote private sector commerce? Our economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, while 347,000 people left the workforce. For every one person entering the labor pool five folks left. Building trades were especially hard hit. The work participation rate fell to 62.8% which is a 35 year low. That means less than 63% of the population available for work are actually working. These are awful numbers and symptomatic of an economy in need of a major boost.
Enter pro-growth Republicans. Let them recommend linking any extension of unemployment benefits to a final, unambiguous approval for construction of the Keystone Pipeline. They can easily make the case that there are tens of thousands of terrific new jobs just waiting on the start of this multi-billion dollar undertaking. Encourage the public to compare this kind of traditionally American, healthy business expansion with the economic idiocy spouted by a president who claims, “extending unemployment insurance actually helps….by creating more jobs.”
Now is the time for the GOP to put on their “big boy pants”, and be bold. They need to introduce their argument to Americans in the starkest terms. Use the common sense, robust, free market, capitalism surrounding this huge construction project to challenge the impotent, constricting, government nanny-ism constantly embraced by Barack Obama and his Democrat shills.
Republicans should make this proposal and then state their case with great fanfare. Let the voters decide which of the two, very different, competing visions for America’s future makes the most sense.