2009 was an exceptionally difficult year for families across the country. College savings accounts drained, retirement plans questioned, and far too many families worried about just keeping food on the table and a roof over their heads. To make matters worse, when our country needed leadership the most, our elected officials in Washington focused on everything but getting Americans back to work. Let me recap the actions of the President and Congress during this past year to show precisely how out-of-touch they were with the immediate concerns of the American people.
First on the agenda was a record-breaking $787 billion-dollar “stimulus” bill. This legislation was ushered through Congress at such haste that most legislators were not given time to read the bill before they voted. Americans were told this legislation was vital to keeping the unemployment rate under 8 percent, and it would create the private-sector jobs our country desperately needed. Since the passage of that bloated “stimulus” bill, the size of government has swelled to record proportions, but our nation’s unemployment has risen to over 10 percent. Additionally, our national debt has soared to pay for “crucial” national projects like a turtle tunnel in Florida and picnic tables in Iowa. Upon further review, it seems now that President Obama and Congressional Democrat’s plan to fix the economy was simply to throw a record amount of money at the problem and assume that much money would correct the situation. This plan gave Democrats cover to say they took bold steps to fix our economic problems, while freeing them up to work on more juicy partisan pet-projects.
After the “stimulus” passed, House Democrats took up Cap & Trade legislation designed to reduce green house gases by placing heavy regulations on businesses and increasing American’s energy costs to encourage them to conserve. You don’t have to be an economist to know making it more difficult to conduct business in a country will reduce jobs instead of creating them. However, the bill was successfully strong-armed through the US House anyway, finally passing by a vote of 219 to 212.
One of the most heated topics this year has been health care reform. By the time health care was debated in the US House, Americans were realizing the economy was getting worse, not better. Many Democrats refused to hold town halls with their constituents, and those who did met fierce opposition from conservatives and moderates alike. Realizing that the Democrat’s socialist crown jewel was in danger, the talking points on health care reform began to change. Before long, the reasoning for passing health care reform shifted from “getting more people insured” to “this will save our country money”, a statement so laughable that even left-leaning Saturday Night Live couldn’t help but parody the claim.
As disappointing as Congress has been this year in tackling the economic crisis, President Obama has arguably been worse. During the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, President Obama has hosted more White House parties during his first year in office than during the entire eight years of George W. Bush’s Administration and the last four years of President Clinton’s Administration combined. President Obama has been equally guilty of pushing for Cap & Trade and Health Care legislation before seeing meaningful improvement in the economy. To make matters worse, President Obama has been abroad over 45 days, has done nothing to stop wasteful spending coming out of Congress, and hosted a White House Jobs Summit filled with campaign supporters and representatives from labor unions but no one from groups like the US Chamber of Commerce or the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
In times of great adversity, our nation requires bold and focused leadership. President Obama and Congress have governed poorly, and have done more harm than good during their first year of “change.” Americans expected the President and Congress to take meaningful steps to improve our economy, but instead found a government interested in advancing policies that had nothing to do with job creation and economic growth. During an economic crisis that was created due to a lack of common sense, it is apparent now more than ever that a return to common sense will make our country a “shining city on a hill” once again. Now, I’m running for United States Congress not President of the United States, but the course of action President Obama should have taken is very clear. There should not have been parties at the White House while Americans were choosing between buying food and paying their mortgage. The government should have tightened it’s belt like most families across the United States instead of growing faster than ever, and Congress should have focused all of it’s energy and attention on getting Americans back to work rather than accomplishing pet projects on the Democrat Party platform. Our nation needs leadership now more than ever, and I pray Washington politicians put their selfish agendas aside in 2010 and focus on getting Americans back to work.
Rep. Jeff Duncan is Chairman of the South Carolina House Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee. He is a life-time member of the NRA, and holds an A+ rating from the South Carolina Club for Growth. He is currently running for United States Congress in South Carolina’s Third Congressional District. www.JeffDuncan.com