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Thune: Democrats’ Big Government Policies are Having a Negative Effect on the Economy

“[W]hatever their motivation, the fact is that Democrats need to realize that it’s time to get government out of the way of the recovery, and that should start with increasing, not decreasing, incentives for Americans to get back to work.”

May 18, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the dismal April jobs report, which found that just 266,000 workers were hired despite the 8.1 million job openings that existed at the end of March. The national unemployment rate also increased to 6.1 percent. Thune noted that Democrats’ “throw money at a problem,” left-wing policies, including the disincentive they created for Americans to return to the workforce, are having a negative effect on the economy. Under their policy, many workers are making more money by staying home than they would by going back to work. 

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, Ronald Reagan once said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’

“He was partially joking of course.

“But what he was getting at is that government is not always the solution, and that government can sometimes do more harm than good.

“And we’re definitely seeing some evidence of that right now.

“On May 7, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the April jobs report.

“With businesses desperate to hire and vaccination increasing daily, the report was expected to be big, with a good chance that a million or more workers would be hired.

“Here’s what actually happened.

“Just 266,000 workers were hired – despite the fact that there were 8.1 million job openings as of the end of March – and the unemployment rate ticked up. 

“That’s right.

“Despite the fact that businesses are desperate to hire workers, the unemployment rate actually increased.

“And it turns out we don’t have to look far for one of the reasons – Democrats’ massive, partisan spending bill, which, among other things, extended the expanded unemployment benefits to September of this year to the point where many workers are making more staying home than they would going back to work.

“Mr. President, increasing unemployment benefits was the right thing to do early in the pandemic.

“Businesses were closed, workers were being forced to stay home, and the landscape was bleak.

“But even last year it became clear that our economy was starting to rebound.

“That didn’t mean that it was time to eliminate all government help, but it did mean that we needed to calibrate help to actual need.

“But Democrats consistently rejected that line of thinking.

“And despite the fact that we had passed our fifth bipartisan COVID relief bill in December – bringing the total amount of COVID funding the federal government had provided to $4 trillion – weeks later Democrats announced that we needed another massive COVID relief bill.

“Republicans tried to suggest that maybe we should keep it carefully targeted, to meet remaining needs without wasting taxpayer dollars or running the risk of overstimulating the economy and driving up inflation.

“But Democrats were having none of it.

“This was urgently needed funding, we were told.

“America needed a massive rescue plan to save us from the virus, and Democrats were going to make it happen.

“Well, Mr. President, as it turns out, that massive rescue package was … too massive.

“Democrats insisted on extending increased unemployment benefits to September of this year.

“And now we’re seeing the result:

“Reports suggest that many people are declining to return to work because they can make more money staying home and drawing unemployment benefits.

“That’s right.

“Jobs are available – the number of job openings is very high – but thanks to Democrats’ long-term extension of increased unemployment benefits, some workers are staying on the sidelines.

“It’s not surprising.

“If individuals can make as much or more sitting at home instead of working, it’s not very shocking that many would choose not to work.

“The long-term increase in unemployment benefits is not of course the only factor keeping people from returning to the workforce, but it’s clear that it’s one substantial reason why businesses are struggling to find workers.

“In the wake of April’s dismal jobs report, Democrats of course were quick to discredit or downplay any association between increased unemployment benefits and the reluctance of some workers to come off the sidelines.

“The president’s treasury secretary suggested that a significant reason for not returning to work was the fact that schools have not fully reopened.

“Well, that’s definitely another factor.

“And it’s a problem Democrats could have addressed with their March COVID legislation.

“Democrats directed tens of billions of additional dollars to schools in their legislation – most of which will be used long after the pandemic is over.

“Republicans repeatedly urged Democrats to tie this funding to school reopening.

“But the teachers unions were not too interested in returning to school, and Democrats have made it very clear that unions’ wish is Democrats’ command.

“And so Democrats gave schools billions of additional dollars to respond to COVID – without actually requiring schools to follow the science and reopen.

“And so yes, many parents are struggling with returning to work because their kids are still not fully back to in-person learning.

“And it’s too bad Democrats were more committed to satisfying the teachers unions than getting kids back in the classroom.

“Mr. President, before Democrats passed their COVID bill, there were concerns that the size of it could end up overstimulating the economy and thus driving up inflation.

“Even some liberal economists sounded the alarm over the size of Democrats’ coronavirus legislation.

“But, again, Democrats were not about to listen to any calls to reduce the size of their massive spending bill.

“And while the full results of Democrats’ spending spree have yet to be seen, there are already signs that inflation may be becoming a problem.

“Consumers are seeing increases – in some cases steep increases – in the price of everything from groceries to used cars and trucks.

“Mr. President, there is no question that government had a significant role to play in responding to the COVID crisis.

“That’s why a Republican-led Senate passed five COVID relief bills totaling $4 trillion, and why we supported everything from increased unemployment benefits to forgivable loans to help small businesses weather the virus.

“But as the crisis wanes, so should the role of government.

“American workers are no longer being forced to stay home while businesses close their doors.

“Our economy is back up and running, and businesses are desperate for workers. 

“We should be doing everything we can to get Americans back to work.

“And Democrats’ $1.9 trillion boondoggle isn’t helping us with that goal.

“Mr. President, a Democrat operative famously said, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

“And as our economy has recovered, a lot of Democrats have seemed very unwilling to let go of the pandemic.

“I don’t know if that’s because Democrats want to take credit for getting our nation out of this – even though all the essential groundwork for our massive vaccination campaign and our economic recovery was laid in the previous administration – or if it’s because Democrats think that the COVID crisis will provide them with the cover they need to permanently increase government spending and government intervention on a massive scale.

“But whatever their motivation, the fact is that Democrats need to realize that it’s time to get government out of the way of the recovery.

“And that should start with increasing, not decreasing, incentives for Americans to get back to work.

“As we’re seeing right now, sometimes throwing government money at a situation can do more harm than good.”