02.07.2012 0

Unemployment extension provides GOP an opportunity

By Robert Romano — At the end February, the payroll tax holiday will expire, along with the last extension of unemployment benefits up to 99 weeks. That event could provide Republicans an opportunity to have the Obama Administration put its money where its mouth is on the economy.

Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson has called for Congress to bring an end to the extensions, citing Barack Obama’s heralding the latest unemployment numbers that came out on Feb. 3. Then, Obama said, “the economy is growing stronger. The recovery is speeding up.”

Said Wilson, “It’s time for Obama to put up or shut up on unemployment benefits extensions up to 99 weeks,” noting that the White House “wants to claim that the apparent drop in the jobless rate means the economy is turning a corner.”

“If he really believes that the emergency is over, then it is time to rescind these extensions that have cost taxpayers an additional $275 billion since 2009,” he explained.

The latest figures showed the headline unemployment rate dropping to 8.3 percent. Obama wants the political credit, so it may be time for congressional Republicans to call his bluff.

To be certain, the headline number was indeed misleading, as it was predicated on a shrinking pool of workers, Wilson said. “4.7 million Americans who were a part of the labor force have simply given up on looking for work since Obama took office, which is artificially keeping the unemployment rate down.”

How far down? “If those people were included, the real rate of unemployed working age adults would be 11.01 percent, and the underemployed would be 17.6 percent,” he explained. That means the economy has not even begun to eat into the 8 million jobs lost in this recession.

Wilson warned, “A failure by Congress to roll back this welfare program will be seen as an acknowledgement that the most recent jobs report is much weaker than Obama is suggesting.”

But if the economy and in particular the labor market is not recovering as advertised, is now the time to roll back the unemployment benefits?

The ALG head says it is: “Even if one were to look at the data honestly, 99 weeks of unemployment benefits have already run out for millions Americans anyway and the program should be repealed.” With millions of Americans still facing foreclosure, it is clear that these government programs are not helping families to keep their homes.

There’s a better way. And it’s what Republicans should put on the table as a replacement for the past three year’s of Obama’s welfare programs.

“The solution to the problem is not perpetual extensions of welfare, but for government to enact pro-growth policies that will have a job-creating effect. These include rolling back the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, undoing the harsh regulatory climate in health care, the environment, and energy, lifting restrictions on capital creation, and restoring sound money.” Wilson concluded.

That will allow the GOP to draw a sharp distinction with Obama, who all his policies have accomplished is adding $3.4 trillion to the national debt, while failing to truly to turn the economy around.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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