Sessions Opening Statement: Washington’s Policies Limiting Economic Growth And Opportunity
“We are quietly downsizing the American Dream. The ‘new normal’ really refers to the increasingly modest dreams hardworking families allow themselves. Maybe education after high school, maybe retirement, maybe a paid-up home and car when you stop working… but [these things are] increasingly not certain and perhaps not even likely…
Let’s take this [time] to debate the spending priorities and set some much-needed reforms in motion that will actually deal with the problem of economic growth in America… If we can come out of these debates with evidence that we’re actually fixing broken programs and confronting our rising debt, investors will thank us by infusing the private sector with new capital. That’s when working families might begin to see some economic light at the end of their very long tunnel.”
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, delivered the following opening statement today at a hearing on political uncertainty and economic growth:
"I would like to thank the Chairman for holding this hearing.
We’re here because we have not resolved large, nagging policy differences which continue to stand in the way of fiscal improvements. The state of middle- and lower-income Americans is worsening on every front. The slow growth of the economy (the slowest economic recovery since World War II) is restraining the normal upward movement in income that previous generations have experienced. If you don’t have a job, you’re twice as likely to only find part-time as full-time work—if you can find any work at all.
Middle class incomes have stagnated, and that means that savings for college and retirement are growing at all-time lows.
Young people are not marrying as early as they want, due to bad economic prospects. That means that families are launching later in life, which gives couples fewer years to pay down their mortgage, create savings, or raise their children.
Too many of our public schools waste taxpayer dollars while consistently failing the children of hardworking parents.
Indeed, we are quietly downsizing the American Dream. The “new normal” really refers to the increasingly modest dreams hardworking families allow themselves. Maybe education after high school, maybe retirement, maybe a paid-up home and car when you stop working… but increasingly not certain and perhaps not even likely.
The rapid growth of government debt has slowed the economy, as has the mounting concern that Washington will ever bring its fiscal house in order. The real uncertainty in the financial markets deals with our capacity to address our short- and long-term fiscal and economic policy problems. Businesses have been slow to expand their operations, thus further weakening middle- and lower-income families.
Fewer people are working than in 2007. Just before the recession hit in December of 2007, about 62.7 percent of population aged 16 and above were working. If that same percentage was working today, we would have 154.1 million jobs. But we don’t. We have 144.2 million jobs and only 58.6 percent of the population is working.
In short, we’re missing 9.9 million jobs when we compare this economy to the one in 2007.
Here’s another way to look at the problems in our job market: in 2007 we had 363,000 “discouraged workers”—people who had given up looking for work but had not yet disappeared from view by the Employment Security offices. Today we have 866,000. That an increase of 140 percent in six years.
Here’s still another barometer of middle class anxiety: we have 1,988,000 fewer full-time jobs today than in December of 2007. However, we have 3,627,000 more part-time jobs. Our economy appears to be much better at producing part-time jobs than full-time, which is a highly worrisome trend.
Resolving this jobs crisis for working families will take more than just passing a continuing resolution or a new process for adjusting the debt ceiling, as some have suggested. We need a comprehensive review of our economic policies and, I might add, our welfare policies. Obviously our economic policies aren’t working very well; perhaps our welfare policies are exacerbating that trend.
So let’s take this three-month period to debate the spending priorities and set some much-needed reforms in motion that will actually deal with the problem of economic growth in America. What will work to create jobs? Tax more, spend more, borrow more, regulate more? Is that going to create jobs? I suggest to you it will never create jobs. It is a guaranteed plan for failure.
If we can come out of these debates with evidence that we’re actually fixing broken programs and confronting our rising debt, investors will thank us by infusing the private sector with new capital. That’s when working families might begin to see some economic light at the end of their very long tunnel.
Thank you and I look forward to the testimony of today’s witnesses."
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