Having just celebrated a uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the spirit and values that define us. As we endure the brutal lessons of the past year and this painful economy, we must recall that our nation is the land of opportunity, and for most, the opportunity means having a real job with a real company in the real world.
Recently, this window has been closed on too many people for too long. The federal government can and must do more to restore opportunities for its citizens.
Most of our efforts to date have been directed at providing more unemployment insurance, more food stamps and more welfare. Recent suggestions by the Democrat leadership for another "jobs" bill lean toward government jobs.
Jobs are created by small businesses. Business men and women make their business decisions based on a predictable future. We are providing none of that. A permanent cut in business tax rates (we have the second highest business taxes in the industrial world) and a reduction in overregulation of business would be a good start.
Instead, we are adding to government regulation and oversight. In a television appearance, Chairman Barney Frank said he was doing everything he could to increase the role of the federal government.
The $787 billion stimulus program was sold to us as a "jobs" program. They have developed an Internet site to show you how they have succeeded. That site showed that in a south Georgia program 950 jobs were created. They had 508 employees before they received the funds and have 508 employees now. This is happening across America.
What is most disturbing is that the federal government is effectively growing while the private sector is shrinking. So, even though this defeating climate is shedding jobs, the government has been significantly shielded from job loss compared to private business.
This contradicts the stimulus objective, which sought to spur more than 90 percent of the jobs created in the private sector. Instead, the outcome shows that more than 3.2 million jobs have been lost since stimulus enactment, but the loss is a disproportionate 6:1 for the private sector.
While the job growth estimate was miserably wrong, the forecast rightly acknowledges that it is preferable to expand private activity, not governmental. Obviously, the stimulus failed in this vein and the resulting growth in the government indicates the following: more employees are needed to administer government benefits as more are forced to rely on them; the government is taking over services once provided by a private firm. This is not good for our future.
The single most effective action the Federal government can take to encourage job creation is to establish a business environment that is stable, predictable, and profitable, which is best done by removing government from the formula. Proposals to mandate universal health care, cap carbon emissions, and enact another, more costly, stimulus all loom, creating an uncertainty that threatens to make our current economy seem like the boom days.
Congress and the administration should learn from the many workers who have had to tighten their belts in this harsh economy and spend money more responsibly. In doing so, we must direct our efforts to doing what we can by continuing a safety net to those hurt by this economy and making it easier for private industries to create jobs. Federal spending does not create jobs, but this kind of wasteful government spending certainly kills them.
Rep. John Linder, R-Duluth, has served in the House of Representatives since 1992.