Economy & Budget

What is the President's economic recovery plan?

Home sales are at an all time low, but prices for groceries, school supplies and basic necessities like power and gas are going up. Our economy remains extremely fragile, with signs of continued weakness. The economy is not generating enough jobs and unemployment remains above nine percent. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Now, more than ever, the American people need the President to lead.

What is President Obama’s plan for economic recovery? We’re over two and a half years into his presidency, and President Obama has failed to put forward a plan that grows the economy and puts Americans back to work. The President’s policies have only resulted in higher deficits and have failed to create jobs, which is exactly why many are frustrated. Since President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, the national debt has increased by $3.7 trillion. To put that in perspective, it took the U.S. from 1776 until 1992 to accumulate the same amount of debt that President Obama accumulated in two and a half years.


Solution to America's trade competitiveness lies in trade agreements

The following is the text of a letter sent Wednesday to President Obama by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Dear Mr. President: 

I am writing to request a status update on your Administration’s trade reorganization efforts. During the State of the Union on January 25, 2011 you noted that 12 U.S. agencies are involved with exports and announced an Administration-wide effort to “develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote – and we will push to get it passed.” On March 11, 2011 you issued a Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies further detailing your federal government reorganization priorities that was published in the Federal Register. In that memorandum, you stated that, “The first focus of this effort shall be on the executive departments and agencies and the functions that support one of our most important priorities – increasing trade, exports, and our overall competitiveness.”


13 small ideas that can equal big job creation

Recently, there has been a stampede of politicians who are all trying to earn the “I Love The Military More” title. As a military veteran, an Army wife and former Veterans Employment and Training Services director, all this bravado has proven just one thing to me. No one in on the podium knows a hill of beans about military life, the military-to-civilian transition or life after service.  

President Obama is not only the Commander-in-Chief of our troops; he is the tip of the spear in the military chain of command. So when he speaks of “more access to One-Stops” and “reverse boot camp,” he sends an alarming message – “if you were more civilian like, you wouldn’t be unemployed.” When the truth is, veterans know how to get and keep civilian jobs. The break down is in civilian human resource departments all across the country. 

When Governor Rick Perry stumps that he’s going to be the President the troops can be proud of, he shows a shocking ignorance of military culture even though he has been the Commander-in-Chief for the Texas National Guard for a decade. No matter how a Sailor, Airman, Marine, Soldier or Coastie came to serve, they learned from day one that respect is never dependent on personalities. In fact, people rotate in and out every day in the military. If our ability to perform was dependent on our feelings about a person, we’d be a colony today and some other country would be the world’s super power. 


A safety net built around work - when there is no work

Fifteen years ago this month, President Clinton signed legislation that fundamentally transformed the nation's welfare system. Implemented in the midst of the roaring 90s, the new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), was predicated on the conviction that work was preferable to welfare, that welfare should be temporary, and that jobs were available if people would only look for them. Now with unemployment rates at levels unimaginable even five years ago, the context for reform has changed, posing profound questions for Congress as it revisits the law that "changed welfare as we knew it" when it expires next month.

In 1996, work requirements, time limits, and restrictions on welfare recipients' participation in education and training were all designed to reinforce the message that work was the best route out of poverty. At the same time, the Earned Income Tax Credit was greatly expanded, offering supplements to earnings of up to $5,700 per year for many low-wage workers with children. Rewarding and supporting employment in this way fit with an ethos of reciprocity and responsibility valued by American society.


Post office closures not the solution

By any measure, the Postal Service’s deficit projections are daunting, but closing nearly 4,400 post offices, as the Postal Service has proposed, is not going to fix the problem.
With a $9 billion deficit projected this year, these closures are expected to save just $200 million annually, hardly a pittance, far from covering the Postal Service’s larger financial problems, like funding its retiree health and pension obligations.

A fundamental reality that seems to be overlooked by those who advocate closing post offices as a budgetary cure is that the Postal Service is a public institution with public obligations. It was created to ensure mail delivery services in areas that otherwise would not have such service.


The president’s speech: Don’t take lead on cuts

Diana Ross and the Supremes said "you can't hurry love." But come next month, President Barack Obama should be ready to love what the Republicans on the new congressional Super Committee may be ready to give him.

Obama’s best strategy for his promised September speech is to take the lead on a mega-deal, trading comprehensive tax reform for a package of job-creating tax credits and other measures.


Looking to the future of welfare reform

August 22 marks the 15th anniversary of the signing of the welfare reform bill, making this a good time to reflect on the future of what is now known as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, program. One would expect that during this unprecedented time of high unemployment and hardship that TANF—one of the biggest programs serving people in poverty—would be of interest to Congress.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Instead, the tragic state of the political debate has kept certain topics off the table and has generally limited Congress’ ability to solve any of the major problems our nation is currently facing. Meanwhile, TANF is overdue for reauthorization. Necessary hearings and debates have yet to occur, and the program is now poised for another inevitable extension without full consideration.


Is defense spending really on the chopping block?

As analysis of the debt deal rages on, most commentators are convinced that deep cuts to defense are inevitable. It’s nice to think so, since the bloated defense budget has grown nearly unchecked over the last decade -— with the DoD failing audits and Congress so far unwilling to cut programs even the Secretary of Defense deems unnecessary.

But in the nation’s Capital, perceptions far too often have little to do with reality.


Message from small business owners and entrepreneurs: Washington, wake up!

As we continue to watch the political theater that unfolds in Washington during the debt ceiling debate, many officials have failed to realize something important: with each and every passing day as we got closer to the August 2nd deadline that would lead our country into default, small businesses and those on main street were struggling to keep their doors open as our economy hung in the balance. This was due to one primary reason: no one knows what Washington is going to do next to interfere with business. As a result, we are stuck in an indecisive mode!  

As entrepreneurs and small business owners, we operate on a tremendous amount of market unknowns. Yet we move forward. Recently, economic events have increased these unknowns. Yet the biggest issues -- which most of us do not have experience with -- are the issues coming out of Washington. New health care laws, new tax issues, access to capital risks, new regulations we aren’t even aware of, law suit risks... The list goes on.


Obama made his own bad luck on jobs

The President recently took to the campaign trail – at taxpayer expense – trying to rehabilitate his image on job creation. Obama claimed that his policies “reversed the recession” until he ran into a “run of bad luck,” but in truth the biggest challenge the economy has faced under this administration is an astonishing onslaught of federal regulations that make it nearly impossible to estimate the cost of adding new employees. In fact, the only Obama “success” on job creation is the hiring of new federal regulators, with employment at regulatory agencies up 13 percent since Obama took office to more than 281,000 federal bureaucrats. Meanwhile private sector employment shrank by 5.6 percent.

Investors and employers are sitting on their hands, accumulating cash, and waiting for the regulatory environment to improve. Unfortunately, it seems to be getting even more hostile to job creation.