Senator John Thune
Recently the March jobs numbers were released and it was more grim news for the American economy. We learned that nearly 500,000 Americans stopped looking for work, driving down the labor force participation rate to 63.3 percent, the lowest level since Jimmy Carter was president. In fact, if the labor force participation rate was the same as it was when the president took office, the unemployment rate would be 11 percent. Just days after the March jobs report was released, the president had an opportunity to lay out an economic plan in his budget proposal that would help get the nation’s fiscal house in order while promoting economic growth and job creation.
Instead, the budget proposal put forward by the president represents more of the same failed economic policies that have led to the worst recovery since World War II. Rather than pursuing new pro-growth, taxpayer-friendly policies, the president’s proposal doubles-down on his job-destroying tax hikes. His budget would raise taxes by $1.1 trillion on top of the $1.7 trillion in new taxes already enacted under his administration. Additionally, his budget would only reduce the deficit by a mere $119 billion in the next decade, despite the fact that the national debt is projected to grow by $8.2 trillion during that same period.
Even more astounding is that like the Senate Democrats’ budget proposal, President Obama’s budget will never balance—ever. Balancing the budget is hardly an extreme proposition. Families must live within a budget, and most states balance their budgets every year. However, just last month President Obama commented that he won’t balance the budget “for the sake of balance.” Well, perhaps he should balance the budget for the sake of economic growth and job creation. Unfortunately, both the president’s unwillingness to balance the budget and his tardiness in submitting his proposal reflect his lack of seriousness when it comes to budgeting.It is clear that we need to curb Washington’s spending addiction and balance the federal budget. Our national debt exceeds $16.7 trillion, which is larger than the size of our entire economy, and the interest payments on the debt are expected to be larger than the defense budget in just six years. It is time for a new approach. We must change our country’s course, stimulate growth in our economy, protect and preserve Social Security and Medicare for future generations, and expand energy production by approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Working together to promote these policies and to cut spending and debt, we can grow the economy and create jobs and opportunity for American workers, families, and small businesses.