June 7, 2010 | Commentary on Energy and Environment
Congress Chooses Debt Over Jobs
Did Congress learn anything during its recent recess?
For the past year, Americans have consistently said that job creation and the economy are their top priorities. While failing to address those concerns, Congress and the administration have generated a new one: an exploding national debt, which just surpassed $13 trillion.
Nothing on the legislative calendar suggests anything will change.
CRep. Sander Levin (D.-Mich.), who chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee, said the bill “means jobs and jobs and jobs.” Does it really, though?
For the past year, President Obama and Congress have done little more than throw money out the door, extend unemployment benefits and increase our national debt. Since then, unemployment has risen and, while recent headlines noted it had dipped to 9 .7%, that’s almost entirely because the Census Department has hired so may temps. Lawmakers haven’t explored any new ideas to get the economy growing.
Big government and massive spending is not the solution. If lawmakers were serious about creating jobs and reducing the federal deficit, they could freeze spending and halt the implementation of costly regulations, pass pending free-trade agreements, reform the tort system and suspend the job-killing and budget-bloating Davis-Bacon requirements that cater to unions.
Stopping the EPA
On Thursday, senators will have an opportunity to do their part to stimulate the economy. They will debate and vote on a resolution that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing global-warming regulations. Proponents of the regulations suggest they’re necessary to save our planet, and also essential to the creation of a new energy economy that would generate “green jobs.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. The regulations would impose a tremendous cost and compliance burden on important sectors of our economy, and those costs would in turn be passed along to consumers. Environmentalists and their allies in the government have tried to spin job-killing regulations as a positive for the American economy, but it’s not working. In Congress, there is bipartisan support to stop the EPA in both the House and the Senate, because many understand it’s all about jobs.
A Victory for Free Speech
Over the past three decades, lawmakers have eroded 1st Amendment rights in the name of “campaign finance reform.” Last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that part of the Federal Election Campaign Act went too far. By issuing an injunction against the Federal Election Commission, the judges reaffirmed that the FEC cannot classify individuals who pool their resources to run political ads as a political action committee, making them subject to tremendous reporting requirements.
Combined with the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision, judges are gradually restoring our 1st Amendment rights. Unfortunately, some in Congress aren’t pleased. The House may soon consider the DISCLOSE Act, which, ignoring the 1st Amendment would restrict the political speech of businesses, unions and non-profits. Not only would it directly contradict the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, but it would place more severe restrictions on businesses than unions.
Only Washington politicians could seek to scrape away our constitutional rights and simultaneously empower their favorite special interest group: unions. No wonder more than 60% of Americans believe we’re on the wrong track and 82% want fresh ideas and new members of Congress.
A Liberal Hail-Merry
Liberal politicians in Washington understand their window of opportunity is closing. The midterm elections figure to be a repudiation of the big-government liberal agenda, which is why liberals are trying to get all they can right now. Everything is on the table: cap-and-tax, amnesty, a new value-added tax, the New START treaty and Internet regulation. Each of those policies lacks public support and would do nothing to decrease unemployment, spending and the deficit.
Liberals are no longer responding to the needs of the American people. Instead, they’re catering to their ideology and their own special-interest groups.
Mr. Holler is deputy director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation
First appeared in Human Events