The Forgotten 15

10 November 2011   Senator Jon Kyl
A series of legislative bulls designed to put America back to work, so what's happening to them?

kylRegardless of how one might feel about the policy initiatives coming out of Washington since President Obama took office, it’s hard to argue that they’ve done much to fix our ailing economy or spur job growth. In fact, the numbers indicate that, if anything, they’ve made things even worse.

With the unemployment rate hovering near double digits over the past three years, millions of unemployed Americans continue their struggle to find a job. One in 15 Americans now lives below the federal poverty line, the worst we’ve seen since the Census Bureau began tracking these figures 35 years ago. And, as a result of the president’s spending policies, we are now sitting on the highest debt load in the history of our country (leading to a downgrade in our national credit rating).

If ever there has been a time for a dramatic policy change, it is now. Yet, as we’ve seen over the past few weeks, instead of charting a new course, President Obama and the Democrat-run Senate seem determined to double down on the failed policies of the past three years.

As we know, over the past few years, the federal government has taken on previously unimagined power and inserted itself into areas where it has never been before. For example, the government is trying to dictate to Boeing where it can open a new manufacturing line (in union-friendly Washington state, rather than the right-to-work state of South Carolina). It is seeking to force federal contractors to disclose information about their employees’ political contributions, something that has no place in the procurement process. And of course there is Obamacare, which will impose massive new regulations and taxes on businesses across the country.

Of course, these are just some of the innumerable rules and mandates that now threaten the entrepreneurs, the small businesses, and the innovative companies that have propelled our American Dream forward for decades. The data show just how bad things have become.

According to a recent survey of small business owners, the top problem facing small companies is not a lack of confidence or demand, but an overabundance of government regulation. More than a third were worried about going out of business next year, and about the same number voiced concern that they might not be able to avoid cutting their workforce to make ends meet. A similar survey of large corporations showed sharp drops in expectations for sales, capital investment, and employment over the next six months.

A Republican-led House of Representatives has been trying to chart a new course for the country by approving bipartisan bills that could immediately jump start our economy and get Americans back to work. The “Forgotten 15,” as these recently passed House bills are now known, are aimed at immediately cutting costs and easing regulations on America’s job creators. For example, H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, was approved on March 31 and received 57 Democrat votes. Then there’s H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which was approved on April 7 and received support from 19 House Democrats. On July 26, the House approved H.R. 1938, The North American-Made Energy Security Act, which drew support from 47 Democrats.

All of these bills, despite bipartisan support, have been dead on arrival in the Senate, where the Democrat majority gets to decide which legislation gets considered.

The point is that the Republican-led House of Representatives has been working on real, bipartisan solutions to get Americans back to work. Meanwhile, the Senate has been spending its time on political proposals that Democrats, according to operatives quoted in a November The Hill article, “never expected to pass,” and were designed purely to put Republicans on the “defensive and force them to explain [their votes] on the 2012 campaign trail.”

It’s time to move beyond the political proposals that were never designed to pass, and start working on real bipartisan ideas, like the Forgotten 15, that can get Americans back to work.

Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his website at www.kyl.senate.gov or his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/senjonkyl.
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