Like a successful business who undertakes a performance review, it is appropriate to look at what the House of Representatives has done in its first six weeks of session. So far, unfortunately, there’s little to evaluate. The American people are still waiting for a bill that addresses our country’s biggest concern – jobs. In the face of public outcry over high unemployment, the priorities of the current leadership in charge of the House have more to do with political theater than job creation.
The legislative calendar has been filled with a litany of extreme bills, including a repeal of health care reform and damaging cuts to key government programs.
A prime example of House leadership’s misguided focus; the House will debate and vote on a bill this week to enact billions of dollars in damaging cuts that would eliminate federal funding to the Metro system, dramatically slash programs like Head Start, and dramatically reduce federal contributions to provide clean drinking water.
In addition to these harmful cuts, the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute notes that this proposed GOP Budget will cost more than 800,000 private and public jobs. When asked about job losses in the federal ranks, Speaker Boehner replied “so be it.”
Cutting wasteful spending is responsible and should be done with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. Above all, a responsible budget should set our country on a path to a stronger economy, not add to the unemployment rolls.
Looking back further, the first bill considered in the Congress was a repeal of the health care reform law, which would not only increase our long-term debt by more than $1 trillion; it would knock the wind out of responsible job growth. Since health care reform was enacted, we have seen 1.1 million new private sector jobs created in the U.S.
Election Day polling showed overwhelmingly that the economy is the most important issue of the day. Though we have seen a recent drop in the nation’s unemployment rate, everyone can agree that we are still very far from a full recovery.
Democrats have asked in every legislative debate on the House floor this year that the Republican leadership focus on job creation. We stand ready to work with Republicans in Congress to move forward on smart spending cuts and proposals to help quicken the pace of our economic recovery, rather than those that retard it.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.